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Fostering Change: A Review of Related Literature on Action Research Strategies and Methods in Education

Education is a dynamic and ever-evolving field that continually seeks effective strategies to foster change and improve outcomes for all learners. One approach to initiating these changes is through action research. This reflective and collaborative process engages educators and researchers to evaluate, innovate, and ultimately enhance various aspects of their educational practices. This article provides a comprehensive literature review that examines different action research strategies and methods employed in the education sector, highlighting their relevance and effectiveness in shaping transformative educational practices and environments.

What is Action Research?

Action research is a systematic approach that combines scientific inquiry with practical action to address real-world issues encountered in educational settings (Sagor, 2000). It involves a cyclical process wherein practitioners identify areas of concern or improvement, develop and implement interventions, gather and analyze data, and evaluate the effects of their actions on teaching and learning practices (Mertler, 2017). Action research provides educators a platform to reflect on their practices, learn from their experiences, and collaborate with their peers (Efron & Ravid, 2019).

Critical Characteristics of Action Research

The following are some essential characteristics of action research in education (Kemmis, 2010; Mertler, 2017):

  1. Practical and Contextual: Action research is embedded within specific educational settings and addresses real-world issues and challenges.
  2. Collaborative: Educators, researchers, and other stakeholders work together, fostering a sense of shared ownership, responsibility, and co-learning.
  3. Reflective: It emphasizes continuous and critical reflection, paving the way for learning and professional growth.
  4. Cyclical: The process is iterative, with each cycle informing subsequent cycles and refining the interventions.
  5. Transformative: The ultimate goal of action research is to enact meaningful changes in educational practices and improve the experiences and outcomes for all learners.

Action Research Strategies and Methods

Various action research strategies and methods have emerged, each with unique features and characteristics. Some of these include:

Participatory Action Research

Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach that emphasizes the involvement and empowerment of stakeholders in the research process, ensuring their experiences, knowledge, and interests are represented and valued (Chevalier & Buckles, 2013). PAR is an inclusive and democratic process, engaging teachers, students, parents, and community members as active collaborators in identifying, analyzing, and resolving educational issues. Some benefits of PAR include:

  • Enhanced stakeholder engagement and collaboration (MacDonald, 2012)
  • Development of local knowledge and improved problem-solving capacities (McIntyre, 2008)
  • Creation of sustainable partnerships and networks for positive change (Greenwood, Whyte, & Harkavy, 1993)

Teacher Research

Teacher research, practitioner research, or teacher inquiry focuses on teachers actively engaging in the research process to reflect upon, evaluate, and ultimately enhance their teaching practices and students’ learning experiences (Burnaford, Fischer, & Hobson, 2001). Teachers take on the roles of researchers and critical practitioners, identifying emerging issues, developing research questions, gathering and analyzing data, and engaging in improvement cycles. The goals of teacher research include:

  • Improved understanding of teaching and learning processes (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009)
  • Empowering teachers as agents of change in education (Mockler, 2014)
  • Establishing collaborative professional learning communities (Rivera Maulucci, Brown, Grey, & Sullivan, 2014)

Lesson Study

Lesson study is a Japanese-originated professional development model that encourages teachers to collaboratively plan, observe, and analyze lessons within an action research framework (Lewis, Perry, & Murata, 2006). Teachers across various subject areas or grade levels design a “research lesson” that addresses specific instructional issues or student learning goals. The process involves:

  1. Identifying learning goals or issues
  2. Collaborative lesson design, focusing on deepening student understanding
  3. Evaluation and reflection through observation, data collection, and discussion
  4. Documenting and sharing the findings within the professional community

Lesson study has been found to foster professional collaboration, enhance teacher learning and growth, and promote instructional innovation and improvement (Fernandez & Yoshida, 2004; Hart, Alston, & Murata, 2011).


The abovementioned approaches emphasize collaboration, reflection, and improvement, aiming to foster meaningful educational changes. Action research provides educators with powerful tools and strategies to develop, refine, and improve their educational practices continually. By actively engaging in action research, educators and researchers contribute to the shifting sands of knowledge and skills necessary for successfully managing the dynamic landscape of contemporary education, ultimately improving student experiences and outcomes.

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Mark Anthony Llego

Mark Anthony Llego, from the Philippines, has significantly influenced the teaching profession by enabling thousands of teachers nationwide to access essential information and exchange ideas. His contributions have enhanced their instructional and supervisory abilities. Moreover, his articles on teaching have reached international audiences and have been featured on highly regarded educational websites in the United States.

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