Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Purposes for conducting Action Research

Practitioners have to consider their purposes for conducting research to allow the results of their research to be consistent with their purposes. Kenneth Zeichner and Susan Noffke propose three dimensions of purposes in Action Research: personal, professional and political.

Personal Purpose for Action Research

The central purpose of action research in this case is the improvement of the researcher's practice. The focus is on the teacher and his own students. Specific purposes can be among others:

  • To develop a greater understanding of individual student's thoughts and actions.
  • To develop a deeper understanding of teachers' experiences with particular educational innovations
  • To provide teachers an opportunity for personal examination and generation of theory.
  • To develop a deeper self awareness in practitioners such as clarification of their assumptions about education and recognition of contradictions between their own ideas and actual classroom practice.
  • To examine the impact of the research process on practitioners
  • To conduct research as an individual learning process valuing experiential experiential knowledge.
To summarize action research undertaken for personal purposes aims to greater self-knowledge, fulfillment, and practitioners' professional awareness.

Professional Purposes for Action Research

In action research undertaken for professional purposes practitioners:

  • uses action research as a form of staff development
  • seeks the legitimization of their role as producers of knowledge and contributors of to the literature of educational research  and theory.
  • develops action research networks of practitioners for the promotion of professionalism.
In action research undertaken for professional purposes teachers seek to extend their research beyond the classroom and influence the social and institutional contexts of their workplace. Their objective aims to not have the  analyses of their work depended from outsiders. According to Zeichner and Noffke this type of research helps to link educational theory and practice

Political Purposes for Action Research

In addressing political purposes Action Research can focus on:

  • Trying to make personal teaching practices more humane and just
  • Facilitating full participation of all those concerned in the research process.
  • Promoting social change with a focus on economic and social justice through collective efforts to increase educational opportunities for all constituents. Typical issues addressed are: gender, class, cultural equity and voice in education.
Zeichner and Noffke contend that all types of action research bear some kind of political purposes either by maintaining some kind of existing lines of power and privilege or seeking to transform them to become more humane. However action research done for political purposes aims to bring social change by allowing to provide greater social justice for all.

In reading action research reports the researcher's purpose or purposes have to be found out. A personal analysis based on the three types of purposes can be done in order to determine these purposes. Experienced researchers can focus on one or several purposes. Some reflections on the purpose of action research are recommended in the planning phase of the project.

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