Action research is a form of applied research whose primary purpose is the improvement of an educational professional's own practice. Action research is equivalent to practitioner research, teacher research, insider research and self-study research when it is undertaken by by teacher educators on their own practice.
Action research may use any of the methods used in formal educational research. Action researchers can collaborate with colleagues, clients, or professional researchers usually university professors. It may also have other purposes besides improving one's personal practice.
Action research differs from formal research in many aspects. Formal rsearch is a form of generalizable knowledge published in acadmic journals. However some action research having some characteristics of formal research can be published in academic journals. Action research is published in online action research journal and websites of various action research networks. Other practitioners benefit from the knowledge generated by these reports.
In Formal research extensive training is needed. In Action Rresearch, extensive training is not required.
In formal Research knowledge produced is generalizable. In Action research Knowledge is to apply to local situation.
In Formal research: Review of previous research. In Action Research: Problems urrently faced.
In Formal research: extensive, using primary sources. In Action research: more cursory, use of secondary sources.
In Formal research: Random or representative sampling. In formal research: students or clients with whom they worked;
In Formal research: rigorous control, long time frame. In Action research: looser procedures, change during study, quick time frame, control through triangulation.
In Formal research: evaluate and pretest measures. In Action research: convenient measures or standardized tests.
In formal research: Statistical tests, qualitative techniques. In Action research: focus on practical, not statistical significance, present raw data, graphs
In Formal research emphasis is on theoretical significance, increased knowledge about teaching and learning in general. In Action Research: emphasis on practical significance,improved teaching and learning in a particular classroom.
In formal research: Published report, journal article, professional conference, In Action research: Informal sharing with colleagues, brief report, ERIC document, conferences.