Action Research Questions And Answers

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Action research in English Language Teaching is comparatively a recent development which has been predominant in the literature in late eightiess and early 1990s. This essay explores the definitions, literature, benefits and challenges of action research as a method of instructor research in teacher instruction and development. It concludes by a critical appraisal of the application of this research methodological analysis and its sustainability in ELT.

1. Introduction

There is a overplus of definitions of action research merely as there is countless literature on the topic by many bookmans in many Fieldss of human enterprise. Burns ( 2005 ) in her seminal paper on action research has explored definitions of action research by extensively foregrounding the positions of pedagogues such as Denzin & A ; Lincoln ( 1998 ) , Rogers ( 1961 ) , Grotjahn ( 1987 ) , Freire ( 1970 ) , Schutz ( 1967 ) among others. She sums up that action research is a “ portion of ‘a quiet methodological revolution ‘ towards qualitative research attacks ” which impacted on the societal scientific disciplines and emerged in reaction to scientific, experimental and quantitative paradigms. It encourages “ participative, ‘naturalistic ‘ question with its exploratory-interpretive underpinnings ” ( Burns, 2005:57 ) . Action research, since 1940s, and its related subdivisions such as action scientific discipline, action acquisition, practician research, participatory research, and collaborative/cooperative question have been portion of the new revolution towards change in human societal and economic state of affairss. Burns farther explains that action research is a general motion that attempts to make significance and apprehension in a debatable societal state of affairss and bettering the quality of human interactions and patterns within those state of affairss.

The relevancy of action research to English Language Teaching and teacher instruction, as we can infer from the foregoing, is that it cuts across many disciplinary Fieldss which include the field of applied linguistics. It is seen as a flexible research methodological analysis suited for research that supports alteration. Harmonizing to Hopkins ( 1985: 32 ) and Ebbut ( 1985:156 ) the combination of action and research presupposes action as a signifier of disciplined enquiry in which personal effort is made to understand, better and reform pattern. Cohen & A ; Marion ( 1994:186 ) see action research as “ small-scale intercession in the operation of existent universe ” therefore a closer scrutiny of the effects of alteration of such intercession integrates societal research with explorative action to

promote development. Lisa ( 2008:4 ) provinces “ action research involves fluid and overlapping rhythms of probe, action planning, flying of new patterns and rating of results integrating at all stages the aggregation and analysis of informations and coevals of cognition. She maintains “ that the results of action research are both practical and theoretical. The cognition it generates has a direct and on-going impact on altering pattern for participants and on a wider audience through its publications ” , and application.

This essay, nevertheless, focuses on educational action research ( teacher action ; as in Borg ‘s paper on ‘Conditions for Teacher Research ‘ ; Condition 9: Community ) with disposition to English linguistic communication learning. Thus the essay explores educational action research, its procedures, intents and features in line with the positions expressed by Burns ( 2009 ) . The essay draws its decision from the challenges, position and how action research can be encouraged, maintained and promoted in English linguistic communication instruction.


The popular belief is that Kurt Lewin is the conceiver of action research in the fortiess. His work was intended to alter the life opportunities of deprived groups in footings of lodging, employment, bias, socialisation and preparation. The combination of action and research has contributed to the attractive force of this method of research to research workers, instructors, academic and educational community. Kurt was a psychologist, influenced by the work of the societal philosopher, J. L. Moreno, in group kineticss and societal motions in early twentieth century Germany. Kurt conceived of research as taking to societal action, and saw action research as a spiral of stairss ‘each of which is composed of circle of planning, action and fact-finding about the consequence of the action ‘ ( Lewin, 1948:206, cited in Burns, 2009:58 ) . Zuber-Skerritt ( 1996a ) suggests emancipatory action research… is collaborative, critical and self-critical enquiry by practicians… into a major job or issue or concern in their ain pattern. They own the job and feel responsible and accountable for work outing it through teamwork and through following a cyclical procedure of:

  1. strategic planning ;
  2. actions, i.e. implementing the program ;
  3. observation, rating and self-evaluation ;
  4. critical and self-critical contemplations on the consequences

On the footing of points 1-3 determinations could be made for the following rhythm of action research. Earlier, Zuber-Skerritt ( 1996a:3-5 ) argues action research is emancipatory when it aims non merely at proficient and practical betterment and the participants ‘ better apprehension, along with transmutation and alteration within the bing boundaries and conditions, but besides at altering the system itself or those conditions which impede desired betterment in the system/organization… There is no hierarchy, but unfastened and ‘symmetrical communicating ‘ . The emancipatory involvement is based on the impression of action research workers as participants in a community of peers and as betterment to professional pattern at the local, possibly schoolroom degree, within the capacities of persons and the state of affairss in which they are working. Action research is portion of a broader docket of altering instruction, altering schooling and altering society.

A reappraisal of action research model reveals several common characteristics. An action research undertaking seeks to make cognition, propose and implement alteration, and better pattern and public presentation ( Stringer, 1996 ) . Kemmis and McTaggart ( 1988 ) suggest that the cardinal constituents of action research include the undermentioned: ( 1 ) developing a program for betterment, ( 2 ) implementing the program, ( 3 ) observing and documenting the effects of the program, and ( 4 ) reflecting on the effects of the program for farther planning and informed action. New cognition gained consequences in alterations in pattern ( see besides, Fullan, 2000a ) . Action research is frequently conducted to detect a program for invention or intercession and is collaborative. Based on Kemmis and McTaggart ‘s ( 1998 ) original preparation of action research and subsequent alterations, Mills ( 2003 ) developed the undermentioned model for action research:

  • Describe the job and country of focal point.
  • Specify the factors involved in your country of focal point ( e.g. , the course of study, school scene, pupil results, and instructional schemes ) .
  • Develop research inquiries.
  • Describe the intercession or invention to be implemented.
  • Develop a timeline for execution.
  • Describe the rank of the action research group.
  • Develop a list of resources to implement the program.
  • Describe the information to be collected.
  • Develop a information aggregation and analysis program.
  • Choice appropriate tools of enquiry.
  • Carry out the program ( execution, informations aggregation, informations analysis ) .
  • Report the consequences.

This deductive attack implements a planned intercession, monitors its execution, and evaluates the consequences. A more inductive attack, formulated by Burns ( 1999 ) , is to transport out action research to research what alterations need to be made or what actions need to be taken in a specific instructional scene. Burns suggests the undermentioned interconnected activities:

  • Explore an issue in learning or larning.
  • Identify countries of concern.
  • Observe how those countries play out in the scene of the survey.
  • Discuss how the issue might be addressed.
  • Collect informations to find the action to be taken ( e.g. , pupil questionnaires, observation studies, journal entries ) .
  • Plan strategic actions based on the informations to turn to the issue.

Kemmis and McTaggert ‘s attack focuses on implementing an action program, whereas Burns ‘ focal points on planning for action.
Normally used informations aggregation tools in action research undertakings include bing archival beginnings in schools ( e.g. , attending studies, standardised trial tonss, lesson programs, course of study paperss, ) , questionnaires, interviews, observation notes and protocols, videotapes, exposure, diaries and journals, and narrations ( e.g. , narratives told by instructors, see Hartman, 1998 ) .


Burns ( 2009 ) points out that ‘the modern seeds of AR in educational contexts can be found in the work of John Dewey ( and… can be traced to Aristotle ) ‘ . Dewey had argued against the separation of theory from pattern, and this had deeply influenced educational question in the first portion of the twentieth century to the present clip. This has been the footing for future research by pedagogues, faculty members and societal scientists into their assorted Fieldss with the purposes of bettering the human conditions.

However, in recent old ages a great organic structure of literature in linguistic communication instructor instruction has focus on instructor beliefs and contemplation. Movement such as the ‘teacher as research worker ‘ and ‘teacher as brooding practician ‘ have been seeking to advance the benefits of authorising instructors to take control of their professional development and course of study development through contemplation on pattern. The new tendency encourages instructors to transport out systematic strict question into debatable countries of instruction, larning and course of study in their schoolrooms, devise programs of action, carry out these programs of action and collect informations to measure the revised program in a cyclic form ( Denny,2005:59-60 ) . It is nevertheless notable to understand that the motions ‘teacher as research worker ‘ and ‘teacher as brooding practician ‘ developed in different signifiers by different advocates of AR in UK, the USA and Australia, though they have much in common and strongly influenced by teacher instruction ( Zeichner,2001 in Denny, 2005 ) .

After all the polemics, it is obvious and of import that instructors need support in order to transport on AR, streamline the research procedure, understand and imbibe group research moralss, ability to larn fast and go familiar with the literature on the subject of the research.

Teachers on preparation like us, and practising ELT/ESL with less experience or even wholly unfamiliar with AR should be enlightened, given counsel on background reading in research methodological analysis before any assignment or to originate AR undertaking. Where resources are available, there would be the demand to organize a workshop at the beginning for a group with a varied and differing experiences to learn the rule of action research, methods of happening a focal point which is realistic, choosing and planing the informations assemblage tools and be aftering the research timeline ( Denny,2005 ) .

Besides in line with Denny ‘s ( 2005 ) suggestion, I feel that instructor research workers involved in group undertaking should be besides be involved in organizing initial workshops and airing of the consequences of the workshop through publication. The group should include a research worker experienced in AR and with experience in using for grants, presenting and printing research studies.


Action research has made some important positive impacts in linguistic communication instruction field, particularly ELT/ESL and on instructors involved in it, separately and jointly, nevertheless, the precise nature of these impacts on linguistic communication instruction and acquisition may be hard to determine in touchable concrete footings. This may non be unconnected to the statement that AR is non a research method can be sustained and replicated, because of deficiency of formal incorporate theory and developing its behavior. However, bookmans such as Kemmis and McTaggart ( 1982:2-5, in Burns, 2005:68 ) claim that AR has enable instructors to develop accomplishments in:

A? believing consistently about what happens in the schoolroom

A? implementing action where betterments are thought to be possible

A? monitoring and measuring the effects of the with a position to go oning the betterment

A? monitoring complex state of affairss critically and practically

A? implementing a flexible attack to school or schoolroom

A? devising betterments through action and contemplation

A? researching the existent, complex and frequently confusing fortunes and restraints of the modern school

A? recognizing and interpreting germinating thoughts into action.

Many more claims refering the benefits of AR are made, Burns ( 1999: 14 – 15 ) provinces that the Australian instructors collaborated with her had experienced:

A? deeper battles with their ain schoolroom patterns

A? a better apprehension of research and methods for transporting out research

A? less sense of isolation from other instructors

A? a personal challenge, satisfaction and professional growing

A? heightened consciousness of external factors encroaching on their schoolrooms.


Action research as a signifier of research is non without jobs ; articulation, construct and application. It has attracted a batch of unfavorable judgments ; one major unfavorable judgment is that research is an activity best left to academic specializers who have the preparation and capacity. Thus AR has no academic prestigiousness and delicacy. Jarvis ( 1981 ) is one of the advocates of this line of thought in the linguistic communication learning field and similar positions were expressed in TESOL Newsletter ( 2001 ) , ( see Burns, 2009:66-67 ) . However, bookmans like Borg ( 2002 ) feel otherwise, and reject the traditional boundaries between instructors and research workers. In fact Borg is defending the cause for teacher-researcher, has written extensively on this subject ; Borg ( 2006 ) Conditions for Teacher Researcher.

There is hence need to turn to positions such as Jarvis, if AR is to be considered as a research methodological analysis. Many more unfavorable judgments against AR that merit our attending are that it:

A? has non developed sound research processs, techniques and methodological analysis

A? is small-scale and hence non generalizable ( has low external cogency )

A? shows low control of the research environment and hence can non lend to causal theories of instruction and acquisition

A? exhibits strong personal engagement on the portion of the participant and therefore is excessively subjective and anecdotal

A? is non reported in a signifier that conforms to a recognizable scientific genre ( Burns,2009:67 ) .

In add-on to above unfavorable judgments AR has been criticised as messy, informal, and structurally unformed affecting imprecise rhythms of research and action.


Despite the statements and counter statements for and against AR as a methodological analysis in linguistic communication instruction Fieldss, its scope of activities has impacted on the take parting instructors who have been engaged in it. It is now being accepted as a motion in the linguistic communication learning field, though it is non internationally widespread. This is because some indispensable conditions that promote AR, such as motive, support, research cognition, accomplishments, and the potency for airing of findings are non readily available. This is in contrast to where AR has taken room, instructors are good supported, learning in instructional contexts, such as in Australia and North America ( Borg, unpublished, cited in Burns, 2009 ) . Most ELT/ESL professional are still uninvolved in AR and despite the enthusiasm in favor of AR involvement and engagement in it is on the diminution.

Most ELT and particularly ESL instructors are non exposed to AR, and may non even have an thought of how it works. Some extended workshops and conferences where instructors are involved in practical presentation of learning planning and presentation may ensue into AR. A instance in point is my personal experience in Alfaisal International Academy, Riyadh. The Academy in coaction with British Council organised a Training Workshop on the Teaching of Composition between the months of September and October, 2007. All take parting instructors were given documents with infinites, and were asked to freely show the jobs they encounter in the instruction of composing. The instructors were asked to show their positions in groups and discourse the jobs which include the pick of subject, sentence and paragraph development, logical agreement of thoughts, manners and shortly. At the terminal of the month-long preparation most of the take parting instructors were able to better upon their composing category.

The composing preparation was extremely contextualized and localized in its effort to look into a state of affairs in a specific school. We were able to change over silent cognition of pupil advancement in composing authorship to explicit cognition that could be communicated clearly to other components, such as board members and parents. The preparation confirmed our single sentiments, observations, and intuitions based on probe of our inputs in the preparation. If our observations were taken into considerations, it would supply drift for alterations in pattern and course of study, based on information that was consistently collected and synthesized. This information would take to the enlargement of the linguistic communication capacity of the Arab ESL pupils through a revised course of study that involved storytelling, sentence-level production of the linguistic communication, and the usage of content-based discourse-level speech production undertakings. The research was participatory and collaborative, affecting all of the international community English as 2nd linguistic communication instructors in Alfaisal International Academy, Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

The job is that such workshops are once-in-a-blue-moon events, broad apart and barely sustainable. Furthermore, we did non name it AR. However, it has all the characteristics of action research.


One of the major challenges of action research is to make consciousness about its nature, range, benefits in linguistic communication instruction Fieldss. Besides its inclusion as a certificatory demand class, it should be encouraged through conferences and world-wide professional organic structure where contacts can be maintained. Dissemination of single and concerted research findings would guarantee the growing enlargement of AR.

Despite AR impacts in the linguistic communication learning learning field, more interesting challenges and tensenesss are still prevailing. I portion Burns ‘ ( 2009 ) concerns that there are differing apprehensions, of AR ‘s intent, range, and patterns in assorted contexts. We should truly see happening replies to inquiries refering the future waies of AR in a figure of wide countries, such as:

  1. How should we imagine the primary intents and results of AR? Is it chiefly a vehicle for practicians ‘ personal and professional development, or can it besides have a function in the production of cognition for the field?
  2. Is AR merely an accessible version of research for instructors, or does it besides denote an emerging paradigm with its ain epistemology, methodological analysiss and fact-finding patterns? If so, how should criterions of quality be addressed?
  3. In what ways can AR open up chances for corporate signifiers of cognition about instruction and acquisition that are inclusive of academic and learning communities? What kinds of relationships between instructors, instructor pedagogues and research workers will necessitate to emerge to ease corporate cognition production?
  4. ( How ) can AR activity in linguistic communication instruction besides address broader issues of course of study development, societal justness and educational political action, therefore lending to the greater sustainability of effectual educational patterns?

7. Decision

This research methodological analysis, despite many contentions, unfavorable judgment, statements and counter statements on the nature, range and procedures, is used in many Fieldss of human enterprises such as societal and wellness services, community development and instruction, to turn to a long history of troubles in successfully reassigning research cognition into alterations in pattern. It is a agency of uniting the coevals of cognition with professional development of practicians through their engagement as co-researchers. It besides serves as a barrier ledgeman between policymakers and practicians, giving them richer penetrations into pattern and an active function in policy development every bit good as its execution severally. This is clear in a research where instructors are involved in the designation of job, program on how to work out the job in a participatory, collaborative, concerted manner. The assorted inputs of single instructor research worker and all take parting instructor research workers are the informations that would inform the policy of alteration. Therefore when instructors are portion of the planning of policy and planing course of study, its execution and betterment would break and easier.

The essay has been able to critically research action research, teacher research, significance, statements and processes as a research ‘methodology ‘ . Some suggestions have been proffered to more strict method of research in teacher action research in linguistic communication instruction field.

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Fullan, M. ( 2000b ) . Leadership for the 21st century: Interrupting the bonds of dependence. In The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leading ( pp. 156-63 ) . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hartman, D. K. ( 1998 ) . Stories instructors tell. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook.

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