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Action Research in Education: Methods & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is Action Research?
  • 1:34 Methods of Action Research
  • 3:14 Observational Example
  • 5:12 Surveys Example
  • 7:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica McCallister
Action research is often used in the field of education. The following lesson provides two examples of action research in the field of education, methods of conducting action research and a quiz to assess your understanding of the topic.

What Is Action Research?

There are many ways to conduct research. Each of these ways is used in various professional fields, including psychology, sociology, social work, medicine, nursing, education and so on. However, the field of education often uses action research, an interactive method of collecting information that's used to explore topics of teaching, curriculum development and student behavior in the classroom.

Action research is very popular in the field of education because there is always room for improvement when it comes to teaching and educating others. Sure, there are all types of methods of teaching in the classroom, but action research works very well because the cycle offers opportunity for continued reflection. In all professional fields, the goal of action research is to improve processes. Action research is also beneficial in areas of teaching practice that need to be explored or settings in which continued improvement is the focus.

Let's take a closer look at the cycle of action research. As you can see, the process first starts with identifying a problem. Then, you must devise a plan and implement the plan. This is the part of the process where the action is taking place. After you implement the plan, you will observe how the process is working or not working. After you've had time to observe the situation, the entire process of action research is reflected upon. Perhaps the whole process will start over again! This is action research!

Action Research Diagram
Action Research Diagram

Methods of Action Research

There are many methods to conducting action research. Some of the methods include:

  • Observing individuals or groups
  • Using audio and video tape recording
  • Using structured or semi-structured interviews
  • Taking field notes
  • Using analytic memoing
  • Using or taking photography
  • Distributing surveys or questionnaires

Researchers can also use more than one of the methods above to assist them in collecting rich and meaningful data.

While there are various methods to conducting action research, there are also various types of action research in the fields of education, including individual action research, collaborative action research and school-wide action research. For example:

  • Individual action research involves working independently on a project, such as an elementary school teacher conducting her own, in-class research project with her students.
  • Collaborative action research involves a group of teachers or researchers working together to explore a problem that might be present beyond a single classroom, perhaps at the departmental level or an entire grade level.
  • School-wide action research generally focuses on issues present throughout an entire school or across the district. Teams of staff members would work together using school-wide action research. As you can see, action research can be used in many educational settings.

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