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Action Research Essentials

ISBN: 978-0-470-18929-0
272 pages
March 2009, ©2009, Jossey-Bass
Action Research Essentials (0470189290) cover image

Description

Action Research Essentials is a practical guide born of the author's own experience working with students in the social sciences and education, providing a step-by-step outline of how to "do" action research--backed by the most extensive theory and research coverage on the market today. The author guides future researcher/practitioners through the action research process via numerous concrete illustrations and a wealth of on-line resources; positioning it as a fundamental component of practice,

A key and unique strength of the book is its outreach to a much larger breadth of students than usually found in action research books. This book will illustrate all the steps in action research using examples from education, social work, psychology, sociology, nursing, medicine, and counseling.



The structure of the book is intended as the sole textbook for a course devoted to naturalistic inquiry, practitioner research, or beginning qualitative methods, or can complement a general research course.
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Table of Contents

Figures, Tables, & Exhibits xi

Preface xv

The Author xxi

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION TO ACTION RESEARCH 1

Introduction 2

What Is Action Research? 2

Action Research: Some Definitions 4

Why Engage in Action Research? 6

Steps in the Process 10

Phases of an Action Research Study 14

What Are Data? 18

When Is Action Research the Appropriate Choice? 21

How Can the Process Effect Change? 24

The Ethical Researcher 25

Summary 26

Key Terms 27

Discussion Questions 27

Suggested Topics 27

Online Activities 28

CHAPTER TWO: THE PROCESS BEGINS 29

The Action Research Environment 30

Identifying Problems Suitable for Action Research 31

Sources for Problems or Research Topics 33

Considering the Value of a Problem or Topic 35

Narrowing the Focus 37

The Reflective Journal Revisited 39

Concept Mapping and Focus 40

Reflecting on Relevancy 41

Inquiring, Questioning, Interviewing, and Gathering Information 43

The IRB—Friend or Foe? 45

Informed Consent Forms and Assent Forms 50

A Few More Words on the IRB 52

Summary 52

Key Terms 52

Discussion Questions 53

Suggested Topics 53

Online Activities 53

CHAPTER THREE: THE LITERATURE REVIEW 55

The Literature Review and Action Research 56

What Is a Literature Review? 56

Rationale for Reviewing Literature 57

Literature Review for Action Research 57

Conducting a General Literature Review: Processes and Steps 59

Identifying and Selecting Appropriate Sources 61

Relevancy, Accuracy, and Value of Online Sources 64

Online Literature Review 65

What Experts Have to Say 70

Organizing Sources and Themes in the Literature Review 71

Writing the Review 73

Summary 79

Key Terms 80

Discussion Questions 80

Suggested Topics 80

Online Activities 81

CHAPTER FOUR: DESIGNING RESEARCH QUESTIONS 83

What Drives a Study? 84

Starting Point for Generating Questions 84

Research Considerations 88

Research Design and Research Questions 89

Research Questions as a Blueprint or Framework 89

The Research Statement 93

Characteristics of Good Research Questions 93

Questions, Questions, Questions: Examples and Practice 96

Research Umbrella as a Source for Research Questions 96

Broad Themes, Subthemes, and Research Questions 99

Returning to the Literature Review 101

Blending Ideas to Achieve Refined Overarching Questions 101

Research Questions, Chronology, and Writing 103

Summary 104

Key Terms 104

Discussion Questions 104

Suggested Topics 105

Online Activities 105

CHAPTER FIVE: IDENTIFYING DATA SETS TO INFORM INQUIRY 107

Revisiting Questions 108

Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods 108

Data Versus Data Sets 114

Data Sets That Inform 116

Aligning Multiple Forms of Data with Overarching Questions 117

Triangulation and the Triangulation Matrix 121

Qualitative Data Instruments and Schedules 123

Research and Data Collection Schedules 130

Summary 132

Key Terms 135

Discussion Questions 135

Suggested Topics 135

Online Activities 136

CHAPTER SIX: THE ACTION RESEARCHER’S TOOLS 137

Tools for Conducting Research 138

Reflective Practice 145

Identifying and Collecting Artifacts 154

Making Use of Electronic Sources and Technology 154

Summary 157

Key Terms 158

Discussion Questions 158

Suggested Topics 159

Online Activities 159

QUALITATIVE DATA 163

Getting Started 164

Collecting and Analyzing Data 165

Organizing Data 169

Revisiting the Triangulation Matrix 171

Examining the Pieces 171

Examining Individual Data Sets and Subsets 173

Coding and Analyzing 189

Identifying Categories and Defining Attributes 191

The Big Picture 196

Summary 197

Key Terms 197

Discussion Questions 197

Suggested Topics 198

Online Activities 198

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE ACTION RESEARCH REPORT 201

Writing the Action Research Report 202

Rationale for Writing the Report 203

Components 203

Tips for Writing 204

Reporting and Presenting Findings 206

The Action Research Report Assignment 213

Summary 216

Key Term 216

Discussion Questions 216

Suggested Topics 217

Online Activities 217

CHAPTER NINE: DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING THE ACTION PLAN 219

The Action Plan 220

Rationale 221

Purpose 221

When Is an Action Plan Appropriate? 222

Informed Decision Making 223

Designing the Plan 224

Components 225

Using Findings to Inform Design 230

Continuous Improvement 230

Summary 231

Key Terms 231

Discussion Questions 231

Suggested Topics 232

Online Activities 232

Online Resources for Human Subjects Training and Institutional Review Board Information 235

Glossary 237

References 243

Index 245

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Author Information

Dorothy Valcarcel Craig is a professor of education, certified online instructor, and program coordinator in the Department of Educational Leadership at the College of Education and Behavioral Science, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She previously held the position of associate dean for Teacher Education.

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