Action Research

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Definition Action Research? Meaning.

Action Research (AR) is a (typically  cyclic or spiral) process for planning change interventions and for intentional learning from experience, first described by social psychologist Kurt Lewin ('46) .

The method is characterized by intervention in real world systems, followed by close scrutiny of the effects.

The aim of AR aim is to improve practice, and AR is typically conducted by a combined team of practitioners and researchers.

AR can also be described as the process by which practitioners attempt to study their problems scientifically in order to guide, correct, and evaluate their decisions and actions. (Stephen Corey, 1953). Or more simply, as researching on the implications or effect of an action that is planned to resolve a certain problem.

It is an informal, qualitative, interpretive, reflective, collaborative and experimental methodology that requires all the participants to be collaborative researchers. AR is usually carried out by people who recognize a problem or limitation in their workplace situation and, together, devise a plan to counteract the problem, implement the plan, observe what happens, reflect on these outcomes, revise the plan, implement it, reflect, revise and so on.

In a way the AR method combines the strengths of academic research (objective, scientific, but not necessarily relevant) and consulting research (often subjective and case-based, often not very scientific, but tuned towards relevancy).

The Action Research Process


In its original form, AR was a three-step spiral process of 1. planning which involves reconnaissance; 2. taking actions; and 3. fact-finding about the results of the action. (Kurt Lewin, 1947)

A present-day action research cycle could have the following steps:

  • Data Collection > Evaluation > Action > Critical Reflection > Data Collection > Evaluation > ...
  • Planning (definition of the problem research practices) > Acting (implementation) > Observing (action and data collection) > Reflecting (developing revised action derived from what has been learned) > ... (Kemmis and McTaggart (1988).

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Action Research Special Interest Group.

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Forum about Action Research.

🔥 NEW Lewin's Action Research and Change Management
What is the relevance / applicability of Kurt Lewin's Action Research Approach to Change Management? (...)
1 reactions
Action Research for Academic Staff Development
The strength of good education in any educational institution depends on the quality of the academic staff in that there (...)
5 reactions
Weaknesses of Action Research
Despite the many advantages that Action Research (AR) might have, Brydon-Miller et al. (2003) mention that one of the we (...)
9 reactions
Best Practices

The top-rated discussion topics about Action Research. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

🥇 Action Research as a Basis for Making Decisions
Action research is simply defined as researching on the implications or effect of an action that is planned to resolve a (...)
2 reactions

🥈 Warner Burke Seven Phase Model
Warner Burke’s Seven Phase Process Model builds on the original action research model. The seven phase process is used (...)
2 reactions

🥉 Action Research in Universities
I want to do a PhD in action research and sustainable competitive advantage.. My possible title is action research as an (...)
9 reactions

Action Research is About What Works in the Real World
What I like about action research is that it appears to be about doing what works in the real world. Find out what is li (...)
2 reactions

Action Research Takes Place in a COMMUNITY
In addition to what others have offered, action research involves identifying a problem within a community and mobilizin (...)
3 reactions

What is the Influence of Action Research on Organizational Performance?
Context: There's a rising number of universities, hence students have many choices, leading to some universities facing (...)
0 reactions

Action Research History. Main Theories
The action research model was developed by the pioneers in the field of organization development as a method for plannin (...)
1 reactions

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Action Research. Here you will find professional advices by experts.

Four Characteristic Dimensions of Action Research

Action Research Characteristics, Comparison with Empirical Research (...)

Action Research has Elements of Subjectivity AND Objectivity

James Antwi (...)
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Action Research. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Action Research In-depth: Views, Critiques and Key Issues

Action Research, Action Learning (...)

Views on Action Research and Teaching

Teaching, Action Research, Professional Development for Teachers (...)

Compare with: Deming Cycle  |  Action Learning  |  Team Management Profile  |  Appreciative Inquiry  |  Positive Deviance  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  Knowledge Management (Collison & Parcell)  |  SECI model  |  Bridging Epistemologies  |  Organizational Learning  |  Organizational Memory  |  Root Cause Analysis  |  Metaplan  |  Groupthink  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Emotional Intelligence  |  Training Within Industry

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