Action research

philosophy and methodology of research generally applied in the social sciences

Action research or participatory action research – is a research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address issues and solve problems.

Systems Model of Action-Research Process.

Quotes edit

  • The concept of action research arises in the behavioural sciences and is obviously applicable to an examination of human activity systems carried out through the process of attempting to solve problems. This core is the idea that the researcher does not remain an observer outside the subject of investigation but becomes a participant in the relevant human group. The researcher becomes a participant in the action, and the process of change itself becomes the subject of research. In action research the roles of researcher and subject are obviously not fixed: the roles of the subject and the practitioner are sometimes switched: the subjects become researchers... and researchers become men of action.
  • The research needed for social practice can best be characterized as research for social management or social engineering. It is a type of action research, a comparative research of the conditions and effects of various forms of social action, and research leading to social action.
    • Kurt Lewin (1946) "Action research and minority problems". J Soc. Issues 2(4): p. 35.
  • Trist both pioneered and embodied action research – an interplay between his deep interaction with real problems in organisations, and the forefront of academic thought in social science. through coal mines in Yorkshire to an entire manufacturing town in New York State – he was an active contributor to both theory and practice. He said that “I used to look with longing at what I called the ‘white-coated peace’, the tranquillity of the white-coated scientists working in the lab. But that was not for me. I didn’t have a white lab coat. I was in the messy, ambiguous, problematic stuff that you have to endure if you are going to be a psychologist”.
    • Magnus Ramage and Karen Shipp (2009) Systems Thinkers. p. 268.
  • Action research is a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory worldview which we believe is emerging at this historical moment. It seeks to bring together action and reflection, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and their communities.
    • Peter Reason and Hilary Bradbury (2001) Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. p. 1.
  • The clever man will tell you what he knows; he may even try to explain it to you. The wise man encourages you to discover it for yourself, even though he knows it inside out.
    • R.W. Revans (1980) Action learning, quoted in Jean McNiff (1988) Action Research, Principles and Practice. p. 52.
  • CRAR [Critically Reflexive Action Research] does not aim to create one representation of reality but, rather, the unravelling (and documentation) of multiple realities and rhetorics that are in mutual and simultaneous interaction.
    • Susan Weil (1998) "Rhetorics and realities in public service organisations: systemic practice and organisational learning as Critically Reflexive Action Research (CRAR)". In: Systemic Practice and Action Research,. Vol 7, nr.5, p. 58.
  • The strength of the action research approach to professional development rests upon a creative and critical dialogue between members of a community which includes teachers, academics, parents, industrialists, and politicians. We move ahead through creative leaps of imagination. We learn from our mistakes in detailed criticisms of our positions.
    • Jack Whitehead (1988) Action Research, Principles and Practice, McNiff,1988, xi.

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