I’m a week behind due to some unexpected work that took my spare time away. This week I started to learn more about action research. I quite like the definition from the “Action Research A Guide for Associate Lecturers”  (The Open University, 2015. P.4)

“Action research can be described as: any research into practice undertaken by those involved in that practice, with an aim to change and improve it. It is therefore, a process of enquiry by you as a practitioner (an OU tutor in this case) into the effectiveness of your own teaching and your students’ learning.”

It’s interesting to read the article “The Meaning and Evolution of the Word Parrhesia” (Foucault, 1999), which I had no idea what “Parrhesia” means. It is a philosophic article about the history of this word and a study about if people speak the truth and how true it is. For me, it’s hard to really know a person is telling the truth or not, and judge if the person knows he/she is telling the truth. I think what the researcher could do is to accept what it is, and collect a serials of evidence from different channels and analyse what it is.

Yes, always bearing in mind who are your readers and whom your article is writing for so you know why you write up in certain ways, and what the readers’ expectation of reading your writing.

This week’s sessions mainly help me to learn the process of writing up and the outcome of writing up. The aim of writing up action research is to present two stories (see below). Thus how to present my stories and writing in what structure become crucial.

  • The ‘Action’ story – the conducting in the research topic area and its development.
  • The ‘Research’ story – the researcher’s reflection on his/her own research experience.

Considering writing authentically, I used to be taught to avoid using “I” and “we” in academic paper. Therefore I hardly used the first person in my working reports, support articles, and academic papers. However, it’s different in action research writing. It is suggested here:

Undertaking writing in action research requires that you write authentically in the first person, bringing your ‘action’ and ‘research’ stories together into a coherent narrative.

I’m also glad to read the article “What is good action research?” (Huang, 2010). It lists seven features of good quality action research, which is helpful when thinking of the outcome of writing up.

  1. Articulation of objectives – are the aims of the action research study clear?
  2. Partnership and participation – to what extent did stakeholders actually participate in the research?
  3. Contribution to action research theory/practice – does the work make an innovative contribution to the field?
  4. Methods and process – are these articulated and clarified?
  5. Actionability – Does the study lead to new actions?
  6. Reflexivity – Did the researchers explicityly locate themselves as change agents?
  7. Significance – What is the significance of the study to area of study?

In addition, I learned three common misconceptions of action research from this article (p.101, p.103) and remind myself to avoid them.

  • Action research emerges from working with practitioners,  and it emphasised on “partnership and participation”. Interacting only with formal power holders is not action research. Thus, I understand that the research I have conducted about the “user requirements for virtual classroom/collaborative tools” is not action research!
  • Simply sharing one’s insights is not action research.  Ask yourself do practitioners engaged with actionable knowledge?
  • Action research is sloppy? No, it is not sloppy even though it raises confusion due to reflecting on paradigm differently.