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TSL 3113 Action Research 1 - Methodology

TOPIC 1: An Introduction to Research Methods in Education

Educational Research

Characteristics of Action Research
Approaches of Research Ethics in Research

Educational Research

Educational Research
Educational research has been designed to investigate practices

in order to fundamentally improve the way we learn, know and
describe our world.

The overall aim of educational research is to provide teachers, clinicians, managers and learners with systematically obtained information that helps to improve the quality of the learning process.

Educational Research
The difference between doing educational research and other

healthcare research is that often the immediate effects of the
intervention are seen and assessed on the educators or their students, rather than on the processes and outcomes of patients. Therefore, wherever possible, we should think about how to measure the effects of an education intervention on the students.

Action Research
Action research is a form of investigation designed for use by

teachers to attempt to solve problems and improve professional
practices in their own classrooms. It involves systematic observations and data collection which can be then used by the practitioner-researcher in reflection, decision-making and the development of more effective classroom strategies. - Parsons and Brown (2002)

Action Research
Action research is a natural part of teaching. Teachers are continually observing students, collecting data and changing practices to improve student learning and the classroom and school environment. Action research provides a framework that guides the energies of teachers toward a better understanding of

why, when, and how students become better learners.
- Christine Miller (2007)

Action Research
Action Research is a fancy way of saying let's study what's

happening at our school and decide how to make it a better
place. - Emily Calhoun (1994)

Action Research
Action research is the term which describes the integration of

action (implementing a plan) with research (developing an
understanding of the effectiveness of this implementation). The original concept is sometimes attributed to Kurt Lewin


Action Research
Action (change) + Research (investigation)

When something goes wrong with your lessons, what do you do? If you think about what you are doing and make a change, you are doing Action Research!!!

Aims & purposes
1. To contribute towards whole school improvement: to encourage and assist teachers to conduct action research as a means of effecting positive social and educational change in their immediate environments and spheres of influence. 2. To effect improvement in the personal/ professional practice of teachers: the process of conducting action research has been shown to have positive consequences for the professional and personal development of the participants, as they learn to

become more proactive and take responsibility for effecting change.
3. To provide opportunities for Faculty to become involved in research projects: the expertise of various staff members can be solicited for specific projects identified by teachers.

of Action Research

Characteristics of AR:
1. Action researchers take action. 2. AR always involves two goals. 3. AR is interactive.

4. AR aims at developing holistic understanding.
5. AR is fundamentally about change. 6. AR requires an understanding of the ethical framework.

7. AR can include all types of data gathering.
8. AR requires a breadth of pre-understanding. 9. AR should be conducted in real time.

10.The AR paradigm requires its own quality criteria.
(Gummesson, 2000: 16)

1. Action researchers take action.

Action researchers are not merely observing something happening; they are actively working at making it happen.

2. AR always involves two goals.

Goals: Solve the problem and contribute to science.

The action researchers engage in both making the action happen and stand back from the action and reflect on it as it

happens in order to contribute theory to the body of knowledge.

3. AR is interactive. It requires cooperation between the researchers and the client

personnel, and continuous adjustment to new information and
new event.

As it is a series of unfolding and unpredictable events, the
actors need to work together and be able to adapt to the contingencies of the unfolding story.

4. AR aims at developing holistic understanding.

Action researchers need to have a broad view of how the
system works and be able to move between formal structural and technical and informal people subsystems.

It requires an ability to work with dynamic complexity, which describes how a system is complex because of multiple causes and effects.

5. AR is fundamentally about change.

AR is applicable to the understanding, planning and
implementation of change in groups, organizations and communities.

Hence, knowledge and skills in the dynamics of organizational change are necessary.

6. AR requires an understanding of the ethical framework. In AR, ethics involves authentic relationships between the action researcher and the members of the client system as to how

they understand the process and take significant actions.

7. AR can include all types of data gathering methods. AR does not preclude the use of data gathering methods from

traditional research. Qualitative and quantitative tools, such as
interviews and surveys are commonly used.

What is important in AR is that the planning and use of these
tools be well thought out with the members of the organization and clearly integrated into the AR process.

8. AR requires a breadth of pre-understanding.

It refers to the knowledge the action researcher brings to the research project.

9. AR should be conducted in real time.

While AR is alive case study being written as it unfolds, it can
also take the form of a traditional case study written in retrospect, when the written case is used as an intervention into the organization in the present.

In such a situation the case performs the function of a
„learning history‟ and is used as a intervention to promote reflection and learning in the organization.

10. The AR paradigm requires its own quality criteria.

AR should not be judged by the criteria of positive science, but rather within the criteria of its own terms.

Approaches in Research

Qualitative Research approach Quantitative

Qualitative approach:
• The approach usually associated with the social constructivist paradigm which emphasises the socially constructed nature of reality.

• It is about recording, analysing and attempting to uncover the deeper meaning and significance of human behaviour and

experience, including contradictory beliefs,
behaviours and emotions.

Qualitative approach:
• It can describe events, persons and so forth scientifically without the use of numerical data.

• It is harder, more stressful and more time-consuming than other types.

Qualitative approach:
• Concerned with collecting and analysing information in as

many forms.

• Qualitative research is empirical research where the data are not in the form of numbers. (Punch, 1998: 4)

Qualitative approach:
• Qualitative implies a direct concern with experience as it is `lived' or `felt' or `undergone' ... • Qualitative research, then, has the aim of understanding experience as nearly as possible as its participants feel it or live it. Ely et al (Sherman and Webb ,1988)

Quantitative approach:
• Involves collecting and converting data into numerical form so that statistical calculations can be made and conclusions drawn.

• Quantitative approaches have been seen as more scientific and

Quantitative approach:
• Quantitative research consists of those studies in which the data concerned can be analysed in terms of numbers.

• Quantitative research is based more directly on its original plans

and its results are more readily analysed and interpreted.

Quantitative approach:
• Concerned with the collection and analysis of data in numeric form. It tends to emphasize relatively large-scale and representative

sets of data, and is often, falsely in our view, presented or perceived
as being about the gathering of `facts'.

• Quantitative research is empirical research where the data are in the form of numbers.

Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitave Approaches to Educational Research.

Qualitative Approach
-Inductive or “bottom up” Scientific method

Quantitative Approach
-Deductive or “top down”

-Generate new hypotheses and theory -Test hypothesis and theory with data. from data collected. -Description -Description -Explanation -Prediction -Narrow-angle lens -Testing specific hypotheses

Most common research objectives

-Exploration -Discovery -Wide and deep angle lenses


-Examine the breath and depth of phenomenon to learn more about them. - Study behaviour in its natural

- Study behaviour under artificial, controlled conditions.

Nature of study

environment or context.

Qualitative Approach
-Collect narrative data using semi or
unstructured instruments (open-

Quantitative Approach
-Collect numeric data using structured and
validated instruments (close-ended survey items, rating scales, measurable behaviours)

Form of data

ended surveys, interviews, observation, focus groups,

-Words, images, themes, and Nature of data categories -Numeric variables

-Holistically identify patterns,
Data analysis categories and themes - Particularistic findings. Results -In-depth understanding of respondent’s viewpoint. -Respondent framed results

-Identify statistical relationships

-Generalizable findings. -General understanding of respondent’s viewpoint. -Researcher framed results

Qualitative Approach
-Narrative report including contextual description, categories, themes, and Form of final report supporting respondent quotes.

Quantitative Approach
-Statistical report including correlations, comparisons of means, and statistically significant findings.

Adapted from: Johnson & Christensen. (2004). Educational Research: Quantitative, qualitative and mixes approaches, 2nd ed. Boston: Ally: Bacon.

Research Ethics

Definition of research ethics:
Research ethics provide guidelines for the responsible conducts in research. In addition, research ethics educates and monitor the researchers conducting research to ensure high ethical standards.



Peer review

Research with human subjects


Conflicts of interest

Research with animals

Research misconduct

Data management


Authorship is the process of deciding whose names belong on a research paper. In many cases, research evolves from collaboration and

assistance between experts and colleagues. Some of this
assistance will require acknowledgement and some will require joint authorship.

Each person listed as an author on an article should have
significantly contributed to both the research and writing.

“Can I be a co-author?”

“Sure! But only if you…

1. Contributed substantially to the research, AND…
2. Wrote or revised all or parts of the manuscript, AND… 3. Approved the final version of the entire article.”


Plagiarism is the act of passing off somebody else‟s ideas, thoughts, pictures, theories, words or stories as your own.

If a researcher plagiarizes the work of others, they are
bringing into question the integrity, ethics and trustworthiness of the sum total of his or her research.

Types of plagiarism: i. Intentionally take a passage word-for-word, put it in their own work, and do not properly credit the original author.

ii. Unintentionally paraphrased and fragmented texts the
author has pieced together from several works without properly citing the original sources.

The Indiana University provides the following advice to avoid plagiarism. A researcher

preparing a written manuscript should cite the original source if he or she:


Quotes another person‟s actual words, either oral or written.

ii. Paraphrases another person‟s words, either oral or written. iii. Uses another person‟s idea, opinion or theory. iv. Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge.

To avoid unintentional or accidental plagiarizing of another person’s work, use

the following tips from the Northwestern University website:


Cite all ideas and information that is not your own and/ or is not common knowledge.

ii. Always use quotation marks if you are using someone else‟s words. iii. At the beginning of a paraphrased section, show that what comes next is someone else‟s original idea (example: these bullet points start out by saying the information originated with Northwestern University). iv. At the end of the paraphrased section, place the proper citation.


Peer review
Peer review is the process in which the author submits a written manuscript or article to a journal for publication and the journal editors distributes the article to experts working in the same, or similar, scientific discipline. The process involves the following:


Reviewers and editors read and evaluate the article.


Reviewers submit their reviews back to the journal editor.
The journal editor takes all comments, including their own, and communicates this feedback to the original author.

Peer review
The peer review process seldom proceeds in a straight line.

The entire process may involve several rounds of

communication between the editor, the reviewers, and the
original author before an article is fully ready for publication.


Conflicts of interest

Conflict of interest arise when a person‟s (or an organization‟s) obligations to a particular research project conflict with their personal interests or obligations. A researcher should attempt to identify potential conflicts in order to confront those issues before they have a chance to do harm or damage. If exist, then the objectivity of the

researcher and the integrity of the research results can be
questioned by any person throughout the research review process.

i. ii.

Data management
The ethical and truthful collection of reliable data. The ownership and responsibility of collected data.

Data management references three issues:

iii. Retaining data and sharing access to collected data with colleagues and the public.

A clear, responsible, ethical sound, and carefully outlined

for data management is required at the beginning of the
research to prevent all manners of conflicts and inappropriate research methods.


Research misconduct

Research misconduct is the process of identifying and reporting unethical or unsound research. Its components are as follow:
 Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.  Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment or process, or changing or omitting data or results.  Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person‟s idea, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Research misconduct
Any person who knows that research is being conducted unethically should raise his or her concerns to the appropriate authorities, whether that person is involved in that research or not.


Research with human subject
The issues concerning research with human subjects involves topics ranging from voluntary participation in research to fair selection and justice. This variety makes the topics surrounding research ethics with human subjects a challenging but important charge.

 Respect for persons – Informed consent  Respect for persons – Privacy and confidentiality

Respect for persons – Informed Consent
Exist to ensure that all research involving human subjects allows for voluntary participation by subjects who understand what participation entails. Informed consent means that people approached and asked to participate in a research study must:
i. Know what they are getting involved with before they commit.


Not be coerced or manipulated in any way to participate.

iii. Must consent to participate in the project as a subject.

Respect for persons – Informed Consent
The Belmont Report of 1979 outlines the three requirements for informed consent:
1. The information disclosed to research participants must include, “research procedure, their purposes, risks and anticipated benefits, alternative procedures, and a statement

offering the opportunity to ask questions and to withdraw at any time from the
research.” 2. Comprehension – researcher must adapt information to be understandable to every participants.

3. Voluntariness – inform consent can be neither coerced nor improperly pressured from
any participant.

Informed consent mechanism
Dear Participant (parent, principal, guardian),

We are undertaking an action research project to study my own practice as a lecturer(s) in the TESL degree course at IPGKBL Kuching Sarawak Malaysia 2012. This ethics statement is to assure you that we will observe good ethical practice throughout the research.

This means that:    Written ethical permission will be secured before the research commences; Confidentiality will be observed at all times, and no names or identifying personal features will be revealed during the study; Participants will be kept informed at all times and will have access to the research report before it is published;

We will report only that which is in the public domain and in accord with Malaysian
Law; All participants have the right to withdraw from the research at anytime and all data relating to them will be destroyed.

Your signature_________________ Contact information: IPGKBL Campus Kuching English Department, Jabatan Bahasa Dr. Jeff Hawkins:

Respect for persons – Privacy and Confidentiality
People have a right to protect themselves, and information gathered during research participation could harm a person by violating their right to keep information about themselves private.


Research with animals
Animals play a significant role in research. (esp. in medical and pharmaceutical research)

To ensure that research with animals is conducted ethically and
responsibly, the government has created regulations involving the use and care of animals involved in teaching, testing and research.

Research with animals
In order to prevent the mistreatment of animals, The Animal Welfare Act exists in order:
“(1) To ensure that animals intended for use in research facilities or for

exhibition purposes or for use as pets are provided human care and
treatment; (2) to assure the human treatment of animals during transportation in commerce; and (3) to protect the owners of

animals from the theft of their animals by preventing the sale
use of animals which have been stolen.”



1. Why is it important for teachers to do educational research? 2. What must we do to avoid plagiarism in writing a research article? 3. What is research ethics and why is it important? 4. What are the importance of informed consent? 5. Why action research is regarded as an interactive process?


David Coghlan & Teresa Brannick. (2005: 11-13). Doing Action Research In Your Own Words. London: SAGE Publications.

Glenda Nugent, et al. (2012: 4). A Practical Guide to Action Research for Literacy Educators. Washington: Global Operations Unit.
University of Minnesota. (2003: 8-35). A Guide to Research Ethics. University of Minnesota: Center for Bioethics. Alzheimer Europe. (n.d). The Four Main Approaches. Assessed on 2013, 23rd December, at http://www.alzheimer research/The-four-main-approaches Christina Hughes. (n.d). Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Social Research. Assessed on 2013, 23rd December, at ghes/hughesc_index/teachingresearchprocess/quantitativequalitativ e/quantitativequalitative/