Steps of Action Research
The steps for conducting action research are not much different from those followed with any other types of research. The cycle of action research starts with the identification of a problem and advances through developing a research statement and sometimes a hypothesis, collecting, analysing and interpreting data, taking action, reflecting and using the findings to bring changes in practice. However, the steps for conducting action research involve the steps of preparing an action plan in addition to the steps followed in other types of research.
The following steps can be suggested for conducting action research in education:-
1. Developing a question or problem for study.
2. Reviewing literature.
3. Formulating a research plan.
4. Collection of data.
5. Analysis of data.
6. Developing and implementing an action research.
7. Recording the project in writing.
1. Developing a Question or Problem for Study
The first important step for conducting action research is to identify a problem that is faced by the teacher or the practitioner and translate the problem into a research question. The problem selected may be a classroom problem faced by the teacher or a problem faced by the community or organisation. After engaging in deep reflection on the problem or issue, the action researcher needs to write down or phrase the problem as a question to be answered. It is note worthy that the question developed for guiding the research must be a question of higher order rather than a simple ‘Yes/No’ types of questions. Moreover, the question should be simple, researchable and phrased in simple and straight forward language avoiding jargon. It must also be seen that the question selected does not already have an answer.
2. Reviewing Literature
Reviewing literature related to one’s topic of research is an important part of conducting all forms of research. In order to understand, locate, plan and evaluate a study more effectively, the action researcher needs to review literature in the field of his or her study. Review of related literature helps the researcher in understanding the issues related to the topic of research. It can also help in developing and refining the research topic or question selected for conducting action research. Moreover, it can help in identifying what has already been done in the field and what needs to be done. It also helps to be informed about the research methods used by other researcher in the field and also to evaluate their findings.
3. Formulating a Research Plan
A good action research project needs careful planning on the part of the researcher. After identification of topic or question for research and making a survey of related literature, the task of formulating an action plan to guide the process of research has to be done.
research plan in action research guides the researcher towards the
goal of arriving at an answer to the question that the study attempts
to answer. The research plan specify what needs to be done and how
and when each step should be taken.
4. Collection of Data
After formulating the action plan, the next important task for the researcher is to collect relevant data. At this point the researcher has to decide the methods for collecting and organising data needed for the study. Collection of data should always be based on- an analysis of the various methods of data collection, their relative merits and demerits, nature of the data required (i.e. qualitative, quantitative or both), the time plan and time available for carrying out the research as well as a consideration as to how the data collected will be interpreted, The researcher also has to ensure that he has checked all the necessary tools and equipments required before collection of data and the collected are relevant valid and complete in all respect.
5. Analysis of Data
Analysis of data is a crucial stage of any research activity. This is the stage of making final analysis and representing data before drawing conclusions and taking proper action.
At the beginning of the data analysis, the action researcher has to revisit the aims and expectations of the project.
There are different ways in which data can be analysed and presented. The method of representing data depends on the type of data collected by the investigator. Data may be descriptive, quantifiable or both.
Data displays include different types of graphs, charts and networks. Data displays organise data into a compact and easily accessible from that to help draw conclusions or to move on to the next step of analysis of the display so suggests.
6. Developing and Implementing an Action Plan
This step involves developing an immediate action plan for the implementation of the findings of the ongoing study. The action plan may be a detailed and formal account or it may be a detailed and formal account or it may well be an informal outline of proposed activities or intervention.
developing and detailing the action plan, the next important thing is
to implement the plan to see if the potential solution arrived at
through the process of research could really solve the problem under
study. In this step the potential solution to the problem is applied
and the results are observed. Sometimes, when the solutions arrived
at through the action research project fails to actually solve the
problem under study, the action researcher needs to try other ideas
and see if that could make any differences.
7. Recording the Project in Writing
Action research, like any other research, must be recorded in a logical and orderly manner so that the benefits of research could be shared among fellow practitioners, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders.
writing the report of action research, the researcher should always
keep in mind for whom is he writing the report, i.e. his audience. If
the research project is funded by some agency, then it is advisable
to follow format prescribed by the agency.
Vital Elements of Action Research
An action research report must include some vital elements that may be mentioned below:-
a. Providing the background of the study and the context within the action research is conducted.
b. A statement of the research problem and the aims with which the research was conducted must be stated at the beginning of the report.
c. Action research report should briefly include a review of research literature.
d. The research plan usually specifies what needs to be done and how and when each step should be taken.
e. Action research report should include the way in which the research is/was conducted.
f. Finally, action research report must include the findings of the study in relation to the initially set objectives of the research.
it is important to understand that the steps of action research are
to be flexible rather than rigid and fixed.