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StAP & Action Research

At Students as Partners, students research their idea using Action Research. To make sure that your idea fits Students as Partners, it is beneficial to know what Action Research is about. Also if you are already doing research, to ensure a successful process of your project, it is useful to check if your research is still in line with this method.An overview of frequently asked questions about Action Research.

Action Research is a research method that is focused on changing or improving the professional practice. Because of this it needs a practical problem to exist.

The goal of Action Research is to change or improve practice from bottom up. Action Research is bottom up, because the method enables everybody to start a research, the only thing needed to start is to notice a practical problem.

With Action Research you keep amending your research question while your research unfolds; therefore it is best to formulate a research question in the following format: ‘how can I tackle problem Y, through solution X’. With this question, component X changes during various research cycles. Problem Y remains the same during your research, although it is possible that your research shows that Y is not a real problem. In that case the recommendation you make to the university after you finish your project will consist of explaining why Y is not a real problem.

With Action Research, you research through cycles of incremental change. This means that you start with noticing a problem, and then you formulate possible solutions. You discuss those with your partners and formulate your question (see the XY-model). After this you start using your research tools and methods, for example researching literature, using questionnaires, doing interviews, organizing focus groups. Based on this part of researching your idea, you test your idea in practice. After that, the cycle starts over. You keep observing, reflecting and discussing with your partners (stakeholders). This makes you amend your questions during the research. The steps in the illustration do not have to be followed in this particular order every cycle as long as you keep involving your stakeholders and keep reflecting.

Traditional research ultimate goal is to contribute to the knowledge in the field, to fill a gap in research literature. To do so, the researcher needs a research problem. Instead of a research problem, a practical problem is needed for Action Research to exist. With Action Research, you can still contribute to the literature of a field. However, Action Research is more than describing and explaining a problem. In Action Research the ultimate goal is to improve the local professional practice, rather than generalizing results into universal theories.

It enables the practitioner to bring about improvement in their own practice, during the process, based on thorough research. Specifically, the Action Research used for Students as Partners is focused on enhancing learning experience.

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