Participatory Action Research


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Participatory Action Research

  1. 1. Philippine Normal University COLLEGE OF EDUCATION Taft Avenue, Manila 2nd Semester, SY 2012-2013 ED 503: Research Methods and Scientific Writing 2:00 – 5:00 PM, Saturdays, CED 203 Prof. Lolita H. Nava, Ph.D. PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH AND PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH Reynante S. Tagum M.A. in Education major in Guidance & CounselingParticipatory Research • A collaborative process of research, education and action (Hall 1981) explicitly oriented towards social transformation. (McTaggart 1997) • Involves researchers and participants working together to examine a problematic situation or action to change it for the better. (Wadsworth 1998) • Participatory research has three key elements: people, power and praxis (Finn, 1994). It is people- centered (Brown, 1985) in the sense that the process of critical inquiry is informed by and responds to the experiences and needs of people involved. Participatory research is about power. Power is crucial to the construction of reality, language, meanings and rituals of truth; power functions in all knowledge and in every definition. Power is knowledge and knowledge creates truth and therefore power (Foucault, 1980). Participatory research is also about praxis. It recognizes the inseparability of theory and practice and critical awareness of the personal-political dialectic. • What this research tradition provides is a shared commitment to fundamentally disrupt conventional hierarchies of knowledge production: who decides on the questions to ask, how to ask them, and how to theorize the world. (Geraldine Pratt in collaboration with the Philippine Women Center of BC and Ugnayan Kabataany Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino- Canadian Youth Alliance, 2007)Participatory Action Research • Is an attribute of action research in which the problem is determined by the people who believe and feel that the problem is really a problem in the local setting and the solution to the problem is within the same setting without intention of generalizing its results. • Double objective of PAR: One aim is to produce knowledge and action directly useful to a group of people through research, adult education or socio-political action. The second aim is to empower people at a second and deeper level through the process of constructing and using their own knowledge. 1
  2. 2. • A participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory world-view….[and bringing] together action and reflection, theory and practice, in participation with others in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and communities. (Reason & Bradbury, 2001) • It is about jointly producing knowledge with others to produce critical interpretations and readings of the world, which are accessible, understandable to all those involved and actionable. (Paul Chatterton, Duncan Fuller & Paul Routledge, 2007) • Participatory action research is a form of action research in which professional social researchers operate as full collaborators with members of organizations in studying and transforming those organizations. It is an ongoing organizational learning process, a research approach that emphasizes co-learning, participation and organizational transformation. (Greenwood et al, 1993).From these definitions we can see that PAR has some key components: • a focus on change – commitment to participate with people to improve and understand the world by changing it (McIntyre, 2008) although there are differences between researchers as to the scale of that change and the degree to which it is focused on promoting democracy and reducing inequality; • context-specific – it is generally targeted around the needs of a particular group although this can vary in size from small teams to projects encompassing entire communities; • emphasis on collaboration – researchers and participants working together to examine a problematic situation or action to change it for the better, although there are differences in opinion as to how much collaboration is possible or necessary; • a cyclical process – an iterative cycle of research, action and reflection (Kindon et al, 2006) underpins the research process although it is not always clear how this happens in practice; • participants are competent and reflexive and capable of participating in the entire research process although researchers may adopt different standards as to the level of participation that ‘qualifies’ as PAR; • knowledge is generated through participants’ collective efforts and actions; • liberatory – PAR seeks to ‘liberate’ participants to have a greater awareness of their situation in order to take action, although for some researchers the emphasis on liberation will be tempered; • PAR is not just another method – more an orientation to inquiry – this means that many different methods are possible (quantitative and qualitative); • success is some personal or collective change – for some researchers it “depends on the credibility/validity of knowledge derived from the process according to whether the resulting action solves problems for the people involved and increases community self-determination” (Kindon et al, 2007:14) but for others the emphasis is on developing theories and practices that can be shared. 2
  3. 3. Table 1. Participatory and conventional research: a comparison of process Participatory research Conventional researchWhat is the research for? Action Understanding with perhaps action later Institution, personal and professionalWho is the research for? Local people interestWhose knowledge counts? Local peoples Scientists Funding priorities, institutional agendas,Topic choice influenced by? Local priorities professional interest Disciplinary conventions. objectivity andMethodology chosen for? Empowerment, mutual learning truthWho takes part in the stages of researchprocess?Problem identification Local people ResearcherData collection Local people ResearcherInterpretation Local concepts and frameworks Disciplinary concepts and frameworksAnalysis Local people Researcher By researcher to other academics or fundingPresentation of findings Locally accessible and useful bodyAction on findings Integral to the process Separate and may not happenWho takes action? Local people, with/without external support External agenciesWho owns the results? Shared The researcherWhat is emphasized Process Outcomes Figure 1. How PAR operates in an iterative, cyclical mode 3
  4. 4. The cycle takes the following steps: • A problem, issue, or desire for change is identified by the community of research interest. • Initial collaboration takes place between the community of research interest and the researcher and planning how to tackle the problem then begins. • The developed plan is then put into action. • The action and its outcomes are then observed again by the community of research interest and the researcher. • The final stage in the first cycle is to reflect on the action and its outcomes. • If this reflection leads to an assessment that the first action step was effective, then the process of planning, action, observing and reflecting starts again, building on this initial success. • If the reflection deems the first action unsuccessful or not as successful as anticipated, then these outcomes are taken into consideration in the planning of new or different action in the next cycle of planning action, observation and reflection. • The cycle continues in as many iterations as needed to resolve the problem or reach the objective. As with all aspects of PAR, the deeming of a problem as solved or an objective as reached is a collaborative one. As demonstrated in the model, the new cycle of the PAR process does not repeat the old cycle. Rather the planning, acting, observing and reflecting of the previous cycle inform and shape the next cycle. The PAR process is therefore self-evaluative, involving a constant evaluation of its process and modifications to adjust the research problem articulation and research practice.Characteristics of Participatory Action Researched 1. People-oriented. Participatory action research is people-oriented in the sense that it is the people who believe and feel that there is a problem. Everybody is involved in solving the problem from the planning stage to the implementation stage. 2. Community involvement. The community is involved in conducting participatory action research. 3. Group-research. The group is composed of the research team and the research participants should cooperate with each other to solve the social problems, from planning stage to implementation stage. 4. Big crowd. The participatory action research involved big crowd, especially during the general assembly meeting with research team and research participants. Even if a big crowd is involved during the general assembly, everybodys idea is entertained by the research team leader who presides the meeting. 5. Political involvement. The politicians such as the congressman, governor, mayor, barangay captains, and many others should get involved in the research process to make the solving of the social problems easier and faster.Framework of Participatory Action Research 1. Identification of the problem and community. The problem and the community that come across the problem should be identified to know if the people who reside in the said community really believe and feel that the problem is common to them. 2. Statement of the goals/objectives. The goals and objectives of the participatory action research projects should be explicitly stated to serve as guide for the research team and research participants. 3. Identification of participants. Participants to the research include all members of the community as well as researchers. They will be divided into groups of committees according to their experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the tasks assigned to them. 4. Organization of the research team. When participants have been identified, then the research team should be organized to serve as governing body of the research process to oversee the remedial measures 4
  5. 5. and solutions to the problems. 5. Establishment of timetable. The research team and research participants should be given a timetable to complete the task assigned to them. 6. Conduct of the participatory action research project. The research team and research participants should cooperate with each other to conduct the participatory research project in order to find solution to a problem. 7. Evaluation of results. The research team should evaluate the integrative output of the different group of participants. In other words, each committee should submit their results to the research team for evaluation and review. 8. Interpretation of the findings. After reviewing and evaluating the research output, research team should interpret the findings. 9. Implications / recommendations. The research team should cite the implications of the present problem to another problem based on the findings of the study. 10. Implementation. The research team and research participants should implement as soon as possible the solution to the problem based on the findings and recommendations.Advantages of Participatory Action Research 1. Research participants increases their knowledge and ideas as well as valid analysis of social reality, thus, more relevant solutions are achieved. 2. Both researchers and subjects of the study gain more from the research process when the researchers attain greater sensitivity and self-awareness of the problems. 3. The subject of the study gain trust and self-confidence at their own rate and resources to improve their conditions. 4. Good relationship can be developed among the research team, research participants, and people in the community. 5. Humanistic approach is enhanced through involvement of everyone in solving social problems.Disadvantages of Participatory Action Research 1. It is time consuming because it takes time to involve many people in conducting research. 2. It is difficult to gather people and manage to attend the general assembly due to large number of people involved. 3. When the research team back-out while the research process is going on, a new team is created therefore you have to start all over again. 4. The research team may use their power to personal needs and most of the benefits go to them. 5. Politicians who get involved in the research process may use traditional techniques and the said technique may prevail. 6. Abuse of discretion by research team may be practiced due to too much trust and confidence by the research participants and subjects of the study to them and they do not check and balance their activities. 7. With full peoples participation, factors such as experiences, educational qualifications, socio-economic status , knowledge, abilities and skills will affect the benefit of the participants. The less experiences, knowledge, abilities and skills one has in participating, the less one benefits from the system. 5
  6. 6. Reference Calmorin, Laurentina P. & Calmorin Melchor A. (2007). Research Methods and Thesis Writing. Rex Bookstore, Inc. Manila. Kindon, S. L., Pain, R., & Kesby, M. (2007). Participatory action research approaches and methods: connecting people, participation and place. Routledge studies in human geography, 22. London: Routledge. Sevilla, Consuelo G. et al. (1992). Research Methods. Rex Book Store, Inc. Quezon City. Sommer R. & Sommer B. (2002). A Practical Guide to Behavioral Research. (5th edition) Oxford University Press.Website Action Research and Participation. Available at (accessed January 23, 2013). Community Based Participatory Research. Available at (accessed January 31, 2013). Participatory Action Research and Organizational Change. Available at (accessed January 23, 2013). Participatory Research Methods: A Methodological Approach in Motion. Available at http://www.qualitative- (accessed January 23, 2013). Participatory Research Approaches. Available at (accessed January 31, 2013). What is participatory research? Available at (accessed January 23, 2013). 6