Why do schools need action research?

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Why do schools need action research?

Action researchers start with the simple premise that the situations under investigation are interfering with progress and stakeholders desire to find some way to improve them. Participants engage in collaborative processes to help them articulate how circumstances in their school community are “produced, reproduced and experienced on a daily basis” (McIntyre, 2000). To look at it from another perspective, collaborative action research engages a group of people in systematic trial and error. Hence, “all participants in the research process should rightfully be called researchers insofar as they engage in deliberate processes of inquiry or investigation with the intent of extending their understanding of a situation or a problem” (Graham, 2013, p. 12).

The focus is on practice. Related questions include: How do we work with what we have to make our circumstances better than what they are now? How do we glean from our history and our surroundings the information we need to make better decisions? How do we raise our awareness of what is appropriate and activate a plan to make it happen? Through the use of participatory action research participants problematize issues of concern and position themselves “as agents of inquiry and as ‘experts’ about their own lives” (McIntyre, 2000).

Participatory action research engages participants in critical analysis, storytelling, historical research, statistics, and raising critical consciousness about the socio-cultural circumstances in the life of the organization. Action research works, in part, because a range of perspectives from within the community is brought to bear on the issues under investigation, and the actions that emanate from collaboration have the potential to affect balance within the organizational ecology. The ability to engage in ongoing introspection empowers community stakeholders to take charge of their own outcomes in ways that engender hope and self-determination.

Action research has potential to change agents as well as agencies. Scrutiny of people, places, and circumstances may lead to modifications of viewpoint by requiring stakeholders to deconstruct rules, assumptions, and images; reflect on them, and reconstruct belief structures that enhance the organizational ecology.  Such deconstruction may be particularly useful in impacted urban communities currently plagued by violence and other social ills (Stringer, 1996). Moreover, action research comprises “research for a better world” (Reed, 2017).


Reed, L. C. (2017). The agape alternative. Chicago, IL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Reed, L. C. (2017). Transforming middle schools: A staff development workshop manual. Chicago, IL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Reed, L. C. (2017). Transforming school culture: A case study approach. Chicago, IL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


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