Action Research Study


Methods of Data Collection

Action research provides many opportunities for meaningful research in the educational environment through the collection of quantitative and qualitative data. During the observation and reflection stage, the right research tools used to obtain these types of data can make the difference in the effectiveness and general implementation of the action phase of the plan. Typically, the right method of inquiry will drive the research project in the direction best suited for the type study.Therefore, for further clarification it is important to take a closer look at some of these tools, specifically questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, assessments, and case studies.


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


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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.

Types of Case Study. Part 1 of 3 on Case Studies

Case Studies

“The idea of action research is that educational problems and issues are best identified and investigated where the action is: at the classroom and school level. By integrating case study research into these settings and engaging those who work at this level in research activities, findings can be applied immediately and problems solved more quickly” (Hopkins, 1985, Para. 3). Additionally, the process of case studies is frequently functional in small groups when observation rules the day. Through case studies, action research defines participation and refinement in a loop to improve the subject matter for which it observes or seeks to understand.

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.

Focus Groups

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.

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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

Created by

Leslie Dauphinais, Sean Hays, Sandra Miller, Chad Schindler, Lisa Sequera
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Google. (2014). Google Images. Retrieved from

Hannan, A. (2007). Using Questionnaires in Education Research. Retrieved from

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