Madison Metropolitan School District
What is Action Research?
Action Research is a process in which participants examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully using the techniques of research. It is based on the following assumptions:
teachers and principals work best on problems they have identified for themselves;
teachers and principals become more effective when encouraged to examine and assess their own work and then consider ways of working differently;
teachers and principals help each other by working collaboratively;
working with colleagues helps teachers and principals in their professional development.
Heidi Watts, Antioch Graduate School
What Action Research Is Not
It is not the usual things teachers do when they think about their teaching. Action Research is systematic and involves collecting evidence on which to base rigorous reflection.
It is not just problem-solving. Action Research involves problem-posing, not just problem-solving. It does not start from a view of problems as pathologies. It is motivated by a quest to improve and understand the world by changing it and learning how to improve it from the effects of the changes made.
It is not research on other people. Action Research is research by particular people on their own work to help them improve what they do, including how they work with and for others. Action Research does not treat people as objects. It treats people as autonomous, responsible agents who participate actively in making their own histories by knowing what they are doing.
It is not the scientific method applied to teaching. Action
Research is not just about hypothesis-testing or about using data
to come to conclusions. It is concerned with changing situations, not
just interpreting them. It takes the researcher into view. Action
Research is a systematically-evolving process of changing both the researcher
and the situations in which he or she works. The natural and historical
sciences do not have this aim.
Henry and Kemmis
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Last Updated: March 5, 2001
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