Action research involves a systematic process of examining the evidence. The results of this type of research are practical, relevant, and can inform theory. Action research is different than other forms of research as there is less concern for universality of findings, and more value is placed on the relevance of the findings to the researcher and the local collaborators.
This chart demonstrates the difference between traditional research and action research. Traditional research is a means to an end - the conclusion. They start with a theory, statistical analysis is critical and the researcher does not insert herself into the research.
Action research is often practiced by teachers who remain in the middle of the research process. They are looking for ways to improve the specific situation for their students. Statistics may be collected but they are not the point of the research.
|Traditional Research||Action Research|
|Purpose||To draw conclusions. Focus is on advancing knowledge in the field. Insights may be generalized to other settings.||To make decisions. Focus is on the improvement of educational practice. Limited generalizability.|
|Context||Theory: Hypotheses/research questions derive from more general theoretical propositions.||Practice: Research questions derive from practice. Theory plays secondary role.|
|Data Analysis||Rigorous statistical analysis.||Focus on practical, not statistical significance|
|Sampling||Random or representative sample.||Students with whom they work.|
Adapted from: Mc Millan, J. H. & Wergin. J. F. (1998). "Understanding and Evaluating Educational Research." Retrieved October 10, 2018 from
According to Paul Gorski, Action Research for educators meets the following qualifications:
Gorski, P. C. (1995-2018). Teacher Action Research. Critical Multicultural Pavilion. Retrieved October 6, 2018 from https://www.edchange.org/multicultural/tar.html