Educational research involves the application of the scientific method to educational problems.
Answers to questions typically come from common sources, such as tradition, authority, and common sense.
The scientific method is a more systematic, objective procedure for finding answers to questions.
Traditional research is often conducted by individuals who are somewhat removed from the environment they are studying.
Two broad types of research methods are quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative research methodologies require the collection of numerical data and utilize a deductive approach to reasoning; they include both nonexperimental (e.g., descriptive, correlational, causal-comparative research) and experimental designs.
Qualitative research methodologies require the collection of narrative data and utilize an inductive approach to reasoning; they include phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, and case studies.
Mixed-methods research designs combine both quantitative and qualitative types of data.
Action research is any systematic inquiry conducted by educators for the purpose of gathering information about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how their students learn.
Action research is done by teachers for teachers, working with students and colleagues.
The main goal of action research is to address local-level problems of practice, which refer to complex, sizeable, and actionable problems existing within a professional’s sphere of work.
Teacher reflection is an integral part of action research.
The origins of action research can be traced back to 1934 with Kurt Lewin’s workplace studies with factory workers.
The basic process of action research consists of the following four stages: planning, acting, developing, and reflecting.
Most action research studies are cyclical and iterative.
The two general approaches to action research are participatory action research, which aims to improve the lives of individuals who make up organizations, communities, and families; and practical action research, which is focused on addressing a specific problem.
Action research can be used effectively to bridge the gap between theory and practice, to improve educational practice, to empower teachers, to provide professional growth opportunities for teachers, to identify educational problems, to develop and test solutions, and to expand the knowledge base of preservice teachers.
There are numerous ways to enhance the rigor of teacher-led action research studies including repetition of the cycle, prolonged engagement and persistent observation, experience with the process, polyangulation of data, member checking, participant debriefing, diverse case analysis, and referential adequacy.