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Action Research in Teacher Education

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Herein the term Action Research is addressed by reflecting upon two words, action and research, united within this century to create something quite useful and commonplace. The word research, which has a long and traceable evolution, has been linked to seeking and to action, which is certainly the opposite of inaction. Upon closer examination, it is the action that can be either covert or overt, since thinking can be an action. When used together Action Research presents an opportunity to seek, pursue, and track one’s actions to arrive at a target. Yet how a person decides to seek provides context. Regardless of the path taken, Action Research involves certain steps, such as reflection, that are focused, strategic, and seeking within a social context to move forward.

Action Research is malleable, flexible, and therefore can be many things depending upon how the terms are demarcated. However, herein Action Research is both a strategy and orderly process that supports those who may seek to examine, to change, and/or to improve. Action Research is a commitment and an approach from within that provides a structure that can simplify and guide an inquiry. Action Research (AR) can meet the needs of the individual or a group as it supports self-inquiry and group-inquiry equally, while unfolding in a series of steps and phases. The action step may include either cognitive and/or psycho-motor acts; the reflection step includes efforts to look back and within, whereas the third step, revision, demands that an action researcher plan for their next step. This AR process may include additional steps; however, AR remains cyclical and recursive and at times piecemeal as steps may overlap, accelerate, and challenge the action researcher over time, since theory and practice can be quite disparate.