Orientations, Purposes and Reflection: A Framework for Understanding Action Research

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Interest in action research has grown exponentially during the last twenty years. Each year, more and more educators are becoming involved in action research through a variety of activities, such as credit-bearing courses, school restructuring efforts, and professional development. Because of the different roles and perspectives of participants in these activities (teachers, teacher educators, school administrators, parents), multiple models of action research have evolved.

In this paper we present a framework for the comparison and evaluation of action research that transcends differences among existing models. Our framework or schema has as its dimensions theoretical orientation [Grundy, S. (1987). Curriculum: products or praxis. Falmer: New York] purposes [Noffke, S. (1997). Review of Research in Education, 22, 305–343] and types of reflection [Rearick, M. (1998). ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 412 229]. We tested our framework by using it to analyze several recent books on action research written by teacher educators. When applied to those current studies, our framework served to clarify the different approaches employed: what orientations were served (technical, practical, emancipatory), what purposes of action research were emphasized (personal, professional, or political), and what types of reflective processes were used (autobiographical, collaborative, or communal). The schema that we offer here can help future action researchers find the model most suited to their objectives and interests.

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Teaching and Teacher Education, v. 15, issue 4, p. 333-349