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Action research offers the researcher or professional an opportunity to be apart of the

process at every level while the process is taking place. While, the research typically
uses a basic set of steps, it is not confined to a particular set of research methods. When
using action research a wide range of data collection methods may be employed,
including classroom observation, questionnaires, research logs, and interviews of various
kinds (Foreman-Murray, 2008, p. 146). This flexibility allows for the methods of
research to be personalized and fitted to best meet the needs of all involved. Action
research takes on many forms and has the ability to cross lines and expand to meet others
needs. Through this research method, professionals can take on the task of learning,
changing beliefs, and evaluating need for social change.

The three approaches to action research are as a form of Professional Learning, as a form
of Practical Philosophy, and as a form as Critical Social Science. When using action
research as Professional Learning, the idea is that while the results are not displayed
through normal research protocols, they are shared in a way others in similar situations
can understand and learn from. The reports are accounts of their professional learning
that are not intended to meet conventional standards of empirical research reporting such
as those provided by the American Educational Research Association (Foreman-Murray,
2008, p. 147). With this approach the learners understand what is shared with in the
context of their own profession. The major issue critics have with this approach is that
the reports do not meet the academic standards most researchers are looking for, and thus
are difficult to substantiate the findings. The Practical Philosophy approach allows for
the professional to research what they are actually doing in their situation and to study the
outcomes. This approach is matched with the professionals own value system. Practical
Philosophy often involves collaboration with other professionals. This approach aligns
with Elliots model that is clearly directed at teachers professional learning and in some
cases the development of school policy about some aspect of currently problematic
practice (Foreman-Murray, 2008, p. 149). Like other approaches to action research this
approach may use various and no set research methods to assess the outcomes. Examples
such as the Brearly and Van-Ed study can be used to show the effectiveness of reflection
and discussions amongst colleagues to gauge the interventions successes or failures. The
more local focus of the study can also be used by others on the outside based on their
own context (Foreman-Murray, 2008). The final approach, Critical Social Science looks
at the policy or knowledge used and its failures to determine what intervention is
needed. Of the 3 approaches, this is the one I struggled to grasp the most. The study by
Daniel and Gosling to research the development and prevalence of racism in two primary
schools gave me the best example. The 3 studies using various methods of research gave
a wider view to the authors about what was lacking and was needed to affect change.
The study allowed the authors to see the deficiencies in all areas and gave a path to gain
knowledge and bring about social change in the school. This approach is not always
favorable to the social beliefs or current policies. Action research in this mode clearly
engages with policy and has the potential to inform it, but its relationship to policy is
more adversarial than one of service (Foreman-Murray, 2008, p. 153).

Through action research, there are various levels knowledge to be gained and the quality
of confidence in the results. The knowledge gained from a project may be considered
weak, but still appropriate based on the practices it suggests and the needs it fills. Strong
knowledge claims come from balanced and credible findings and are typically more
useful and interesting to others (Foreman-Murray, 2008). Dependent on the outcomes of
the research, the knowledge gained may be most determined by the user of the
information and their ability to relate to it. There are many ways to gain confidence
about the research findings. An obvious was is to use findings that come from someone
or a group of people that you trust and have past experience with. Another critical way of
gaining confidence comes from the validity and quality of the evidence. These ways
though cannot always be used or trusted. Confidence also comes from credibility, the
usefulness, plausibility, and moral acceptance (Foreman-Murray, 2008).

The use of action research certainly has its strengths. As a teacher and student, I am
excited by its flexibility, its relationship to my own values, and the ability to cooperate
and share with others in my profession in a real time situation. The Practical Philosophy
approach seems most connected to my interests. Matching the study with my value
system to observe whether or not the outcomes correlate with my ideas beliefs will allow
myself to better understand what I truly believe in. Working with others in a similar
context to gain knowledge allows all involved to share and learn beyond what you think
personally. I am interested in the ability to cross over subject specific lines and use
action research to gain knowledge about how things that may relate in one throughout the
education system. How does something that you are using in a math class relate and help
a student or teacher in a physical education setting? What approaches to action research
would work best to help each other out?