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Tutorial 2: Understanding Action Research 

Action Research Dimension Polls

These polls are designed to help you think about action research. There are no correct responses or actions researchers have taken in all of these positions. The task is really to help you uncover your assumptions about the process. You might answer one way now and change your response as you gain more experience with action research. Collectively, these polls might provide a snapshot of how we are thinking about action research as a group.

PLEASE RESPOND... It only takes a few minutes...and it helps the rest of us think more deeply about action research.

Note: After collecting hundreds of thousands of responses on all of these, the poll service acquired a new owner who kindly preserved existing polls but reset all values to zero.  I had copied the responses to the first question results on a presentation slide, but for the rest, well, we have to start the poll over. 


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1. Balance of Action and Research:

Action research involves taking action and doing research to understand that action. Both these activities are important to action research, but action researchers might vary in terms of the relative weight they place on each of the activities. For some, the energy and courage to create change might be slightly more important, and to others, the rigors of the methods to study change are more critical.

2. Interaction of Theory and Practice:

How do you see the relationship between theory and practice? One way of thinking of the relationship is that social science theory informs practice - Action researchers use social science findings to inform patterns of change. A second way is to think of theory as derived from Practice - Action researchers use practices to generate their own theories beginning with values, needs, and knowledge of human interaction.

3. The Role of Expertise

 Action research is always collaborative, and action researchers look to others for suggestions, advice, and validation of findings. This expertise can be located at the site or outside the site in universities or districts. Sometimes outside expertise is seen as a valued resource and other times there is an issue of undervaluing the expertise of the practitioner. 

4. The Individual and The Group

Think about how you see the role of the individual action researcher and others who are participating in the action research. Do you see an action researcher planning his or her research and then involving others, or do you see action research as a team enterprise where groups of practitioners work together to fashion change?

5. Ownership of the Challenge:

When you think of action research, how important is it for the action researcher to be able to identify a problem or challenge? Maybe outside experts are responsible for setting up the topic or action to be studied.  Do you think it is better to start with the validation of effective practices and then think about how to design even better practices?  

6. Internal and External Transformations

Think about the outcomes of action research. Some people focus more on the personal transformational change that often results from doing action research. Others look to how the social setting has changed not only for the person but for the participants and a range of stakeholders who are connected to the social setting. When you think about the outcomes, which statement is most consistent with how you think about action research outcomes?

7. Knowledge Management

The action researcher engages in a social process that in the end creates an understanding of change. This knowledge has value and researchers serve a role in sharing knowledge with others. Does the action research have a responsibility to share what was learned with people beyond their site?

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