Action Research Study
Methods of Data Collection
Both qualitative and quantitative research methods use questionnaires to measure facts, attitudes, or values when it is difficult to interview every person face to face.
Advantages of using questionnaires in action research include:
- Researchers can simultaneously administer questionnaires to multiple people at various locations.
- They are anonymous, so participants do not feel pressured to provide socially acceptable or false answers.
- They are economical, with duplication and postage costs generally as the only expenses.
* A disadvantage stems from the inability to control responses or ensure meaningful participation through open ended questioning techniques
Interviews are a method that is commonly used in Action Research to collect facts and gather information about attitudes, opinions, beliefs, experience, and meanings.
Types of interviews:
· Informal, conversational- Goes with the flow of the conversation. The interviewee doesn’t have a pre-determined set of questions.
· General Interview/ guided approach- Provides more focus than the conversational approach, and is intended to ensure that the same areas of information collected from each interviewee.
· Close/ fixed-response- All interviewee’s are asked the same questions and asked to choose from same set of answers.
· Standardized/ open-ended- The same open-ended questions are asked to all interviewee’s.
· Telephone- can also be personal and also allows for the researcher to gather information quickly.
* Researcher must be cautious of intentional and unintentional bias when conducting interviews.
Action research and case studies:
- Are a symbiotic relationship in research that allows for flexibility in a systematic manner.
- Helps to identify a set of conditions that allows for organized observation for smoother application, with the ability to repeat the process to observe the results from small changes
- Provide comparable circumstances not often found in other action research methods.
Mutual Trust and Support
Focus groups welcome all people to participate-Instead of accepting individuals into the group on the basis of skills or expertise, people are invited based on their passion and an interest in the topic of study.
Focus groups allow partakers to gain information on a topic in a more natural, conversational, way-This is a major advantage for gathering a larger amount data with diverse views in formal or informal settings.
Focus groups encourage more active participation through collaboration. – The ability to freely share thoughts and ideas with stakeholders and higher level administration provides an atmosphere that promotes unity. This way everyone seeks to understand differences of perception before trying to resolve them, recognizing that early consensus can inhibit depth and breadth of analysis.
Mutual Trust and Support
Authentic and Performance Based Assessments
Not all AR methods of data collection are conventional. In fact, assessments are an inventive way to gather qualitative data that is not obvious and has a more complex meaning. In this realm the assessment is an indirect way of communicating to find solutions to problems, which can help individuals who are apprehensive about speaking verbally in front of others. Additionally, performance assessments also assist teachers with timely information retrieval for small action based projects. A well-constructed test will provide a clear measure of attainment for each competency or proficiency, measuring each of the different types of knowledge or skills described in the lesson objectives (Stringer, 2008, p. 82). Test results can also be filed for review at a later date. However, traditional scoring based assessments will not yield flexible results and provide many alternatives. In contrast, using authentic assessments to collect data can:
- Help instructors plan action research projects based on assessment more effectively
- Assist faculty in accurately implementing action plans for designing authentic and performance assessments for students
- Lead to insight on best practices for instructional improvements for faculty
*Assessment scores should only be used as a percentage of a larger amount of data to be collected to monitor progress as more evidence becomes available and problems change.
Tips for Effectively using Methods of Collecting Data in Action Research
- Incorporate a variety of methods but keep the process simple and free of bias
- Make sure the tool fits the purpose of the research
- Take effective notes and keep a detailed record of progress
- Create a collaborative atmosphere with other critical members of the process
Hannan, A. (2007). Using Questionnaires in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.edu.plymouth.ac.uk/RESINED/QUESTS/index.htm
Hopkins, D. (1985), A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research, Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Kitzinger, J. (1995). “Qualitative Research: Introducing Focus Groups.” Retrieved from
Koshy, Valsa. (2005). Action Research for Improving Practice A Practical Guide.
Stringer, E. (2008). Action research in education (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson