Action research is an evidence-based approach that has been used for years in the field of education and social sciences. It is used to learn about both good practices and problems with existing practices, as well as being able to develop new strategies by investigating and analyzing data.

In this post, we will explore action research, its purpose, and its stages. Read on!


What Action Research Is

Action research is a methodology of inquiry in which the researcher takes a proactive role in generating knowledge. Action research focuses on learning and can be applied to any field of interest; it is also self-directed, meaning that it is not based on a model or definition but more on an action evaluation framework (Marten, 2000). 

An action research project is a cooperative effort between two or more people who are interested in trying new ways of doing things. The common factor between all of these activities is the intention to search for practical solutions for some problem that affects each individual. 

Typically, the problem stems from an aspect of society that is amenable to change, although no particular area or business is excluded from this concept. Action research consists of five key components: decision-making, data collection, and analysis, multiple works of literature view, results interpretation, and action development (Marten, 2003).

The goal of action research is to build a better product, service, or process by using the power of people working together. Although the goal is to learn things through this approach, it can be used by anyone from students who want to solve their own problems with technology, to employers teaching their employees new skills.


The Purposes of Conducting Action Research

  • The purpose of action research is that it can help academics and learners to find solutions to their problems. To do this, they will know whether their solutions are effective through the scientific method which means that it is more reliable than common sense. It will also make them think harder about what they’re doing. 
  • Action research can help improve the quality of life by making people aware of what they can do in everyday life.
  • Action research is also used for commercial enterprises as it is an effective way to collect information that can help develop new products or services.


The Development of Action Research

Action research is an approach to problem-solving that involves the researcher and others in a process of planning, performing, and evaluating research. It incorporates the evaluation of products or services so that they can be optimized and further developed if necessary. There are four main stages involved in action research: identifying and gathering information, developing a research plan, implementing the plan, and collecting data. Once collected and analyzed, recommendations can be made for improvement within an organization or system.


What is Involved in Action Research

Action research is a research activity that is deliberately designed to achieve some specific practical results in relation to human action problems. Action research activities are characterized by their exploration of possible solutions, with a view toward actualizing these solutions.

Action research involves systematic engagement with the world to comprehend, understand and modify. It helps in learning about the system and the way it works so that you can use this information to help solve problems in your workplace or community.

The stages involved in action research are hypothesis formation, design, implementation, and assessment. A hypothesis is the statement that you are testing.


The Models and Definitions of Action Research

  • Practical Action Research: Practical Action Research involves a practitioner working with the researcher to identify a research problem, propose an intervention, and design methods. It is important that the practitioner as well as the researcher clarify differently with each audience, which issues or problems they want to address and with what approach.
  • Emancipatory Action Research: It involves working with people in order to solve a problem or meet a goal. Practitioners work together as a group and collectively identify problems and possible solutions. Solutions are as much political and consciousness-raising as practical.
  • Technical Action Research: This involves the main researcher in the study identifying the action research problem and proposing an intervention. However, the practitioner will be involved in the implementation of any solutions or interventions.


The Key Characteristics of Action Research

Here are some of the key characteristics of action research.

  • Action Research has a form of metacognition that involves the collection of data, through observation and analysis to identify phenomena, exchange ideas while forming hypotheses, and then using feedback to test those hypotheses. 
  • It is a participative approach to learning based on experimental design. 
  • Action research focuses on immediate action aiming at change in the organization, community, or individuals.
  • The focus of action research is on personal/community development/characteristics so that one’s life can be enriching.
  • Action Research leads to interventions that lead to change.
  • It is also highly situation based and context-specific.


The Philosophical Worldview of The Action Researcher

Kurt Lewin’s 1946 Rigor of Science Study on Social Issues, is often described as a major landmark in the development of action research as a methodology. Action Research is nothing other than a modern 20th-century manifestation of the pre-modern tradition of practical philosophy.

The book goes on to examine how action research is nothing other than a modern 20th-century manifestation of the pre-modern tradition of practical philosophy. It then draws on Gadamer’s powerful vindication of the contemporary relevance of practical philosophy in order to show how. 

This it does, by embracing the idea of ‘methodology’, action research functions to sustain a distorted understanding of what practice is. In fact, it is worth noting that action research has always been connected with practical philosophy hence its importance in research works.


Examples of Action Research Projects.

Here are some examples of how action research is used in projects.

  1. Observing Individuals or Groups: Action research draws upon the prior knowledge of researchers, specialists, and communities gathered through individual experiences or through cooperative learning partnerships between experts and community members.
  2. Using Audio and Video Tape Recording: Action research allows the use of audio and video tape recordings which are more accurate and easier to capture every information from the practitioner or user.
  3. Using structured or semi-structured interviews. Action research can be carried out by conducting interviews in any form.
  4. Using or Taking Photography: Another example of action research is taking photographs to back up or serve as pictorial evidence for your research project.
  5. Distributing Surveys or Questionnaires: Another way to carry out action research is by distributing surveys and questionnaires to better understand your users and their behavior toward your focus topic or product.



The development of action research is a process that takes place over several stages, each of which builds on the preceding ones. In order to ensure that your action research project has a chance at success, you will need to plan ahead and take whatever steps possible to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.

  • Olayemi Jemimah Aransiola
  • on 5 min read


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