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Action research

Action research

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Published by danielkajer

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Published by: danielkajer on Apr 29, 2010
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04/04/2013

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WhatisActionResearch?DefinitionActionresearchisknownbymanyothernames,includingparticipatoryresearch,collaborativeinquiry,emancipatoryresearch,actionlearning,andcontexturalactionresearch,butallarevariationsonatheme.Putsimply,actionresearchisâ
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learningbydoingâ
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-agroupofpeopleidentifyaproblem,dosomethingtoresolveit,seehowsuccessfultheireffortswere,andifnotsatisfied,tryagain.Whilethisistheessenceoftheapproach,thereareotherkeyattributesofactionresearchthatdifferentiateitfromcommonproblem-solvingactivitiesthatweallengageineveryday.Amoresuccinctdefinitionis,"Actionresearch...aimstocontributebothtothepracticalconcernsofpeopleinanimmediateproblematicsituationandtofurtherthegoalsofsocialsciencesimultaneously.Thus,thereisadualcommitmentinactionresearchtostudyasystemandconcurrentlytocollaboratewithmembersofthesysteminchangingitinwhatistogetherregardedasadesirabledirection.Accomplishingthistwingoalrequirestheactivecollaborationofresearcherandclient,andthusitstressestheimportanceofco-learningasaprimaryaspectoftheresearchprocess."[i]Whatseparatesthistypeofresearchfromgeneralprofessionalpractices,consulting,ordailyproblem-solvingistheemphasisonscientificstudy,whichistosaytheresearcherstudiestheproblemsystematicallyandensurestheinterventionisinformedbytheoreticalconsiderations.Muchoftheresearcherâ
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stimeisspentonrefiningthemethodologicaltoolstosuittheexigenciesofthesituation,andoncollecting,analyzing,andpresentingdataonanongoing,cyclicalbasis.Severalattributesseparateactionresearchfromothertypesofresearch.Primaryisitsfocusonturningthepeopleinvolvedintoresearchers,too-peoplelearnbest,andmorewillinglyapplywhattheyhavelearned,whentheydoitthemselves.Italsohasasocialdimension-theresearchtakesplaceinreal-worldsituations,andaimstosolverealproblems.Finally,theinitiatingresearcher,unlikeinotherdisciplines,makesnoattempttoremainobjective,butopenlyacknowledgestheirbiastotheotherparticipants.PrinciplesofActionResearchWhatgivesactionresearchitsuniqueflavouristhesetofprinciplesthatguidetheresearch.Winter(1989)providesacomprehensiveoverviewofsixkeyprinciples.[iv]
 
1)ReflexivecritiqueAnaccountofasituation,suchasnotes,transcriptsorofficialdocuments,willmakeimplicitclaimstobeauthoritative,i.e.,itimpliesthatitisfactualandtrue.Truthinasocialsetting,however,isrelativetotheteller.Theprincipleofreflectivecritiqueensurespeoplereflectonissuesandprocessesandmakeexplicittheinterpretations,biases,assumptionsandconcernsuponwhichjudgmentsaremade.Inthisway,practicalaccountscangiverisetotheoreticalconsiderations.2)DialecticalcritiqueReality,particularlysocialreality,isconsensuallyvalidated,whichistosayitissharedthroughlanguage.Phenomenaareconceptualizedindialogue,thereforeadialecticalcritiqueisrequiredtounderstandthesetofrelationshipsbothbetweenthephenomenonanditscontext,andbetweentheelementsconstitutingthephenomenon.Thekeyelementstofocusattentiononarethoseconstituentelementsthatareunstable,orinoppositiontooneanother.Thesearetheonesthataremostlikelytocreatechanges.3)CollaborativeResourceParticipantsinanactionresearchprojectareco-researchers.Theprincipleofcollaborativeresourcepresupposesthateachpersonâ
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sideasareequallysignificantaspotentialresourcesforcreatinginterpretivecategoriesofanalysis,negotiatedamongtheparticipants.Itstrivestoavoidtheskewingofcredibilitystemmingfromthepriorstatusofanidea-holder.Itespeciallymakespossibletheinsightsgleanedfromnotingthecontradictionsbothbetweenmanyviewpointsandwithinasingleviewpoint4)RiskThechangeprocesspotentiallythreatensallpreviouslyestablishedwaysofdoingthings,thuscreatingpsychicfearsamongthepractitioners.Oneofthemoreprominentfearscomesfromtherisktoegostemmingfromopendiscussionofoneâ

sinterpretations,ideas,andjudgments.Initiatorsofactionresearchwillusethisprincipletoallayothersâ
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fearsandinviteparticipationbypointingoutthatthey,too,willbesubjecttothesameprocess,andthatwhatevertheoutcome,learningwilltakeplace.5)PluralStructure

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