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Tutorial #2 Transcript in English and Spanish


Hi! Welcome back. My name is Margaret Riel and this is the second tutorial in the action research tutorials to help you learn to engage in action research. As with all tutorials, there are activities and then resources to support those activities. The different approaches to action research The first resource is looking at these different approaches to action research and thinking about what each of them means to get a sense of what kind of approach you plan on using. So let's talk a bit about the different approaches to action research.


Lots of different adjectives are used. You'll see action research by itself, collaborative action research, participatory action research, community-based action research, action learning, participatory action learning, and action research. These are all different ways of conducting action research. But there are also a lot of close cousins of action research that differ from action research in a small way and sometimes are seen as either subset of action research or their own approach. In the resources, I go over those, and I give you brief descriptions of each and try to explain how it varies on what the action researcher is emphasizing in their work. So when we talk about collaborative action research, all action research is collaborative. All action research is participatory, and most action research is community-based. But the way in which the collaboration, the participation, and the community operate varies in all of those different approaches to action research. The challenge of defining action research Answering the polls will help you see where you fit in different ways of thinking about action research. Defining action research is a challenge because it is a democratic, collective process. And so everybody gets to say what it is and how it works for their group and their community. And because of that, there isn't a single model or way action research is done. So I give you a couple of definitions because people need to be able to say whether this is or is not action research.


One group that needed to define action research was the Action Research SIG of the American Educational Research Association. They solicit and accept papers for the conference every year. And so, they need to be able to tell the people submitting papers whether or not their research fits into the category of action research. While any one of us could have written a definition, it would be from our perspective. And as we've been talking about in this tutorial, everyone has their own perspective on the way in which they see action research. So we didn't want to impose a single perspective. Elena Polish helped us think about how to use a Delphi study and then combine it with a learning circle approach to get the broadest possible characterization of action research for the website. And so you will see on that website that we have a page-long definition of action research from this complicated process of combining everybody's ideas and arguing about identifying critical dimensions. And we've posted it as a living document. Hopefully, when people look at it, they will say, well, yeah, you missed this other critical part of action research that I focus on.


When I do action research at the university, when I'm helping students develop their action research for their master's program, I have to be able to help them think about what is and is not action research. My views are shaped by the fact that I'm working with professionals in all different sectors trying to engage in transformational learning. They're trying to improve their workplace at the same time as improving their own personal skills. I describe transformational learning in three areas (1) the professional learning that happens to the person who does action research, (2) the change that happens in their setting as a result of doing action research, and then (3) the change to the person as they start becoming members of the community of action researchers. So those are the three ways in which I think about action research.


Jean McNiff takes a values perspective in thinking about action research and focuses on the way in which action research can serve as a form of professional development. She travels around the world, helping different organizations provide professional development through action research. In fact, I have a definition of action research that I've taken from value and Virtue in practice-based research. "Action research is a process of people interacting together, learning with and from one another to understand their practices and situations and to take purposeful action to improve them."


Jack Whitehead has a site that contains many MAS and PhDs dissertations he has supervised. His approach to action research is to focus on the living theory or how practitioners create theory as they work through their ideas. It's a focus on learning.


I also included in the references, Michelle Fine, who has been working with marginalized groups and getting them to own their own problems, collect their own data and address really serious problems. For example, policing in New York City by sharing the data that they have with the police department and giving voice to the people who need to make the case that the way in which policing is being done in their communities is not effective and similarly working with other groups that have been marginalized. Her work is a shining example of the way in which action research can increase social justice. And for some, if you're not engaged in a social justice question, they might challenge whether or not it's action research. For some, that's a defining characteristic.


The context also makes a difference. And I give a couple of examples of different contexts. Mostly when I'm in these tutorials, I will be thinking about educational context. But action research can be done in any context, and the context is done and is likely to shape the way it is structured. You look at the first one; it talks a little bit about action research. In the healthcare industry, there is also a study that focuses on adult education, which is similar to education, but in the workplace literature, teaching adults to read. And finally, there's a section on cultural humility. Cultural humility, rather than assuming cultural competence, help you move into a setting with an awareness that we have a myopic perspective and that even when we try to look at things from the perspective of others, we fail. And so, having a little bit of cultural humility as you approach your action research project will serve you well. As you look through these materials, see if you can see both the similarities and the differences between these different definitions. This will help you build your own definition of action research for your work.


Tutorial 2: What is Action Research?

In tutorial two, you will find four activities. The first one is to document in your blog what your understanding of action research is at this point in time. Hopefully, you've looked at some of the materials in tutorial one, and you've been working on and developing your ideas about what action research is and how you plan to use it in your own work. So write those down because as you develop your expertise, you won't be able to get back to your current stage, to where you are right now in your understanding. There are some online polls to help see the different approaches and different descriptions or definitions of action research. It's not that some are right or wrong; they are different ways of doing action research. All of them are valid. And the polls help you think about when you think about how you will do action research, how important are these seven different dimensions. And how does it compare to what other people who have taken these polls have said? So you get a chance to compare your own views with tens of thousands of other people.


As you're forming your ideas about action research, it's important to share them with other people and get a chance to discuss what you find problematic. And so I hope you have a forum for doing that. If you don't, feel free to use our Facebook page to share your ideas or to share your ideas in our forum. And finally, the last activity you will do at the end of reading the resources is to write a couple of paragraphs describing how you plan to use action research in your work. This will be a part of your final report.


We try to develop your report as you go along so that you will have a draft. It's likely that whatever you write now, you will revise because your understanding of action research will shift. But taking some time right now to write down what you think is the method you're going to use and why you are using action research to explore your problem will be a valuable thing for you to have.


And finally, being a part of communities or organizations is an integral part of doing action research. So join a network. I'll give you several different ones. Look at sites where people have posted action research. Find action research similar to what you want to do, and use that as a model as you work through your ideas. Find journals that publish action research because you will both want to read what is in those journals and you will want to think about publishing your own action research in one of those journals. So that's it for tutorial two. I hope you are getting a sense of what action research is and you are excited about doing your own action research. The following tutorial will focus on your inquiry question and also how you go from inquiry question to your cycle questions, and the overall phase of planning for your action research project. So come back, and I'll see you next time.

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