According to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, "Action research is inquiry or research in the context of focused efforts to improve the quality of an organization and its performance. It typically is designed and conducted by practitioners who analyze the data to improve their own practice. Action research can be done by individuals or by teams of colleagues. The team approach is called collaborative inquiry."
Action research is done by teachers to understand their own teaching and students. The most effective action research results in opportunities to improve learning and engagement.
When we ask "What is action research?" it is important to keep in mind that action research is different from research conducted by academicians at universities. The goal of academic research is usually to conduct research that will generalize to larger populations. In contrast, action researchers are more interested in gaining knowledge that can be directly applied to their own teaching context. As Geoffrey Mills states, "action research is research done by teachers for themselves" (Mills, 2007). While action researchers often publish and share their findings with others, this is not the primary purpose of their research.
Benefits of Action Research
There are many benefits to conducting action research but it does require time and energy, something that is at a premium for busy teachers. Our goal here is to provide you with examples and ideas about how drawings can be used as data to learn about your students and your own teaching in order to make the process more effective and rewarding.
Action research can:
Drawings and Other Sources of Data for Action Research
Action researchers will often collect data from several sources to strengthen their analysis and conclusions. Some researchers use interviews and written text in addition to drawings. Using multiple data sources, termed triangulation, can also include surveys, student grades, homework completion, instruments measuring student motivation, and so on. As you think about how you will collect data for your action research project, consider what sources are available and how these will help you address your research question. Often a combination or data sources will lead you to stronger and more compelling conclusions.
Action Research Process