What ‘Action Research (Living Theory)’ is:
Action research is “according to experts – ‘a cycle of posing questions, gathering date, reflection & deciding on a course of action’”1a. While “Kurt Lewin described it as a process of Planning, Action and Searching”1a. “Learning Point Associates define it as “Inquiry or research in the context of focused efforts to improve the quality of an organization and its performance” 1a.
Dr Greg Waddell says that
“it is a cyclical process – you start with a problem, you design a potential solution, you take action on your solution, you reflect on the results, you capture the learning, then you repeat the process. Again and again.
FIRST you need a good problem. (A good problem is important, complex, multi-functional, and difficult. A good problem demands action, structure. A good problem leads to surprises. Action research requires that we REFRAME the problem, by looking at it in different contexts, from different perspectives as part of a larger system, by making comparisons, by applying the problem to different groups.
As you implement the plan – control the process, collect the data (evidence), present periodic reports.
Another essential element of action research is Reflection.
(A cycle of action and reflection is the heart of action learning – Tom Bourner, Alan Cooper and Linda France).
Reflection is a process of entering into ‘dialogue based on the data collected and (being) guided by a systemic framework to discover the root causes of the organization’s problems.’ (– Michael Beer, Russell A. Eisenstat and Burt Spector)
Questions to ask yourself:
- What actually happened?
- Why did this happen?
- What are we going to do the next time?
Lastly, we need to capture the learning. Information must be captured and then made institutional – a process that involves recording and storing the learning in a way that is accessible to others.
In a nutshell – Action research seeks to accomplish two goals: 1. Stimulate Learning and 2. Make a Difference.”(1a.)
Action research “is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.”1b.
“A living theory is an explanation produced by an individual for their educational influence in their own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of the social formation in which they live and work.” 1b.
Sites I’ve looked at:
Action Research – a
1a. Presentation on SlideShare by Dr Gregory S. Waddell (http://www.slideshare.net/Gregwad/action-research)
1b. Sagor, R. (2000) Guiding School Improvement with Action Research [Online]. Available from:
<http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research¢.aspx> [9th Feb 2016]
Living Theory – b
1b. Whitehead, J. (2008) Using a living theory methodology in improving practice and generating educational knowledge in living theories. Educational Journal of Living Theories (EJOLTS), 1 (1), pp. 104