Workshop 4.

5: Friday afternoon
Action Research: Basics
Christa BAUER
Schulverbund Graz/West
AUSTRIA
Action Research is "the study of a social situation with a view to
improvin the !uality of action within it"
John Elliott: Action Research for Educational Change. Oen !niversit" #ress: $ilton %e"nes &''&( )'.
Basic idea: Attitude of reflecting about one*s o+n ractice and as,ing for feedbac, fro-
the ersons affected
"ain features:
• done b" teachers/ractitioners the-selves
• actual ractice as starting oint for research
• AR uses si-le -ethods for research and conse.uent i-rove-ent of one*s o+n
ractice
• Action and reflection al+a"s relate to each other creating a c"clical rocess: Action
follo+ed b" reflection leading to further action( -odified or enhanced b" reflection.
Cycle:

#hy Action Research$
action
action plan
reflection
practical theory
Self-evaluation is a learning process
BRDO conference 24 – 28 September 2003
AR is an aroach in +hich the ractitioner e/a-ines interesting situations of his/her o+n
ractice +hich -a" be erceived as either ositive or negative in order to bring about
.ualitative change.
0his -a" be:
 to i-rove the .ualit" of teaching or interaction in rofessional situations
 to i-rove the understanding of rofessional situations and to e/and the reertoire of
strategies to deal +ith these situations and finall"
 to increase ,no+ledge about the rofession and contribute to the recognition of the
achieve-ents of the rofession in ublic

What is an Action Research process?
HOW? OBSERVI! "O##E"$I!
FEE%BA"&
WHO? Self-
observation
Observation
by oters
!erson "#$% &nstitution "Scule$
By people affecte' "S% !% ($
By means?
Researc
Diary
(ritical )rien'
#al* to a (olleague
+iving an' ta*ing
)ee'bac*
,uestionnaire
&ntervie-s
&nstant fee'bac* meto's
.i'eo% )otos% #apes
/nalysis of Documents
Elgrid Messner, Graz Christa Bauer, Graz;WS
AR,Brdo !!"
Action Research % "ethods of collectin data
1auer( Wor,sho Action Research( 1rdo 2334
01 Research diary.
Written reflections5 ta,ing notes of ever"thing that hels understand a
situation better: observations( feelings( reactions( interretations( reflections(
anticiations( lans( h"otheses( e/lanations( hotograhs( dra+ings( notes(
coies of docu-ents....
A"$IO RESEAR"'
%oin( research
(ollecting &nformation 2 Data
ASSESSI!
(ompiling information 2 re'ucing
'ata
I$ER)RE$I!
3at 'oes te information 2 'ata mean4
%RAWI! "OSE*+E"ES
3at are our conclusions4 3ic steps 'o -e
ta*e as a conse5uence4
*,estion-)ro./e0
%O"+1E$I!
3at 'o & -ant to 'ocument4 3at can be
interesting for colleagues4
6iaries are rivate and should be +ritten u at regular intervals.
Tip: Searate observations fro- reflections
21 &'servation notes: notes on focussed observation 7 e.g. teaching situation(
arents* -eeting...8 !se:
• direct .uotations 7 +hat do the eole affected sa"98
• lists on ho+ often different eole sea,
• lan of seating order5 -ar,ing +ho reacts to +ho-9 ho+9
• descrition of bod" language und -ove-ent: +hat do the observed
eole do9
Tip: :old aer in half( reserve left hand side for observations( right
hand side for co--ents after observation( use abbreviations
31 Tape recordins: to ,ee a record of so,en infor-ation. 0ranscritions allo+
an e/act stud" of tal,
6isadvantage: loss of all non;acoustic infor-ation 7 gestures( facial
e/ression( -ove-ent..8 and situational fra-e+or,.. 7 roo-...8
Tip: tae short situations +ith a secial ai- 7 grou +or,( one e/a-...8
<t is -ore re+arding than taing ever"thing
41 Interviews: raising a+areness and gathering infor-ation at the sa-e ti-e
Choice of intervie+;artners deends on research focus
single intervie+
several single intervie+s on the sa-e situation
grou intervie+
Some hints on how to interview people:
• e/lain the urose of the intervie+ 7 creating a rivate at-oshere
facilitates the infor-ation transfer8
• listening re.uires atience 7 ta,e "our intervie+ artner seriousl"8
• for-ulate oen .uestions
• active listening 7 reeat( -a,e sure "ou understand..8
Tip: create an oen and rela/ed at-oshere( start +ith facts( turn to
-ore inti-ate sub=ects later
-a,e u guidelines for "our intervie+ first
61 (hotoraphs: #hotos enable "ou to obtain
• an overvie+ of a situation
• the stud" of non;verbal details of a social situation 7e.g.: ta,e a hoto ever"
)3 seconds...8
• rovo,ing .uestions and ideas to generate discussion
Tip: <t is ver" i-ortant to have infor-ation on the conte/t( so
• the situation >before and after+ards? should be described in +riting
• al+a"s give reasons for ta,ing the icture
<nscribe the rinted hoto +ith date( lace( sub=ect( toic
Tip: :lashes disturb the situation( use high seed fil-s
71 )ideotapin:
Advantage: sound@icture@-ove-ent5 ideal for d"na-ic rocesses
6isadvantages: high technical effort
-a" be irritating for the eole observed
anal"sis re.uires a lot of ti-e
-ore de-anding to carr" out
Tip: instal video ca-era in a stable osition
81 *uestionnaire
a ,ind of for-alized intervie+
advantage: eas" to carr" out
disadvantage: less valuable content since "ou cannnot as, additional
.uestions( .uestions are strictl" for-alized
Anal"sis/ Evaluation is easier if "ou use a lot of "es/no .uestions5 ho+ever(
"ou get -ore infor-ation +ith oen .uestions 7e.g. .uestions on ersonal
oinion8
#hen formulatin the !uestions you should ta+e the followin aspects into
account:
 What do < +ant to find out9
 Will < get this infor-ation fro- -" .uestion9
 Can the .uestion be -isunderstood9
 6oes the .uestion suggest so-ething9
 6o < e/ect a certain ans+er9
 6oes it create the i-ulse for contradiction9
 6oes the .uestion ai- at descritions or reroductions of sub=ective
state-ents9
/ction Researc9 :eto's of /s*ing for )ee'bac*
<t is i-ortant to ,no+ +hat eole +ho are affected b" "our +or, as a teacher thin,
of it. 0here are so-e .uic, and si-le -ethods that enable "ou to collect feedbac, :
(upils: one;-inute aer( oen letter( snashot 7right at the -o-ent: +hat are "our
ideas on.... certain toic98( s-ilies  7cla "our hands at the one
e/ressing "our feelings...8( hotograhs( intervie+s( .uestionnaire......
learning =ournal / diar"...
(arents: use arents* -eetings for a snashot( one .uestion( a diagra- deicting a
certain .uestion...( .uestionnaire...
Colleaues: concet of critical friend for reflection( observation( feedbac,...
intervie+ on ho+ colleagues are affected b" "our +or,.
analytic discourse : roble-; solving( deeening understanding:. 0he
-ethod is e/cellent +henever "ou need to gain the understanding of a
different grou of eole or have a grou of interested eole +ho can hel
"ou anal"se a roble-.
Recommended ,iterature:
A. Altrichter( #. #osch ( 1. So-e,h: 0eachers <nvestigate their Wor,. Routledge: Bondon &''4
John Elliott: Action Research for Educational Change. Oen !niversit" #ress: $ilton %e"nes &''&