Themes in Education

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THEMES IN EDUCATION

ACTION
RESEARCH
by Eileen Ferrance

Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory At Brown University a program of The Education Alliance

ACTION RESEARCH
by Eileen Ferrance

Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory At Brown University

The LAB, a program of The Education Alliance at Brown University, is one of ten educational laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Our goals are to improve teaching and learning, advance school improvement, build capacity for reform, and develop strategic alliances with key members of the region’s education and policy making community. The LAB develops educational products and services for school administrators, policymakers, teachers, and parents in New England, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Central to our efforts is a commitment to equity and excellence. Information about LAB programs and services is available by contacting: LAB at Brown University The Education Alliance 222 Richmond Street, Suite 300 Providence, RI 02903-4226 Phone: (800) 521-9550 E-mail: info@lab.brown.edu Web: www.lab.brown.edu Fax: (401) 421-7650

Copyright © 2000 Brown University. All rights reserved.

About This Series
This is another edition in a series of “Themes in Education” booklets produced by the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University. The topics addressed by these booklets are generated in response to requests for information from practitioners, parents, and other members of the public. Each booklet aims to present a balanced view of its topic and a glimpse of how the approach works in schools. Some discussions may lend themselves to a state-by-state summary; others are illustrated by a series of vignettes that demonstrate the central concepts. For topics that are more global in nature, the booklet will cite a few illustrations within the region or nationally. The goal of this series is to provide resources containing useful information on education-related topics of interest. Connections to other relevant resources, selected current references, and ways to obtain more information are provided in each booklet.

This publication is based on work supported by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), Department of Education, under Contract Number RJ96006401. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of OERI, the U.S. Department of Education, or any other agency of the U.S. Government.

Table of Contents
What is Action Research? ................................................. 1 What is Not Action Research? .......................................... 2 Types of Action Research ................................................. 3 A Brief History ................................................................ 7 Steps in Action Research .................................................. 9 Benefits of Action Research ........................................... 13 Stories from the Field..................................................... 16 Rebecca Wisniewski – Lowell, Massachusetts .................... 16 Julie Nora – Providence, Rhode Island ............................ 22

Frequently Asked Questions .......................................... 26 Conclusion .................................................................... 29 How Do I Get More Information? ................................ 30 References ...................................................................... 31 Additional Resources ..................................................... 33

INTRODUCTION
Action research is one of those terms that we hear quite often in today’s educational circles. But just what does it mean? If you ask three people to define action research, you may find yourself with three different responses....
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