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This section helps you to
  1. Understand what are different types of research in education
  2. Understand the relationship between action research and other types of research


Descriptive Research

It deals with ‘what is’, describes and interprets what exists at present. The researcher is concerned with conditions or relationships that exist; practices that prevail, processes that are going on; influences that are being felt and trends that are developing. The purposes of descriptive study include

  1. studying the present phenomena-their status and trends,
  2. providing a basis for planning and formulation of policies,
  3. providing a basis for fundamental research.

Major steps in descriptive study are the same as that of scientific method.

Experimental study

It deals with ‘what will be’ when all conditions are carefully controlled. In an experimental study two situations which are alike in every respect are considered. Then one element is added or removed from one of the situations. The result of this operation is studied. Any difference that arises as a result of this operation is attributed to the adding or removing of the material. The two situations are compared under controlled conditions. The group on which the experiment is done is called the experimental group. Various steps in a simple experimental Research can be represented thus:

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Pretest Pretest
No treatment Application of the experimental factor
Post test Post Test

Case study

P. V. Young describes that case study is a method of exploring and analyzing the life of a social unit, a person, a family, an institution, cultural group or even the entire community. Case study has its roots in clinical observation. It is diagnostic in nature. It is a form of qualitative analysis involving a very careful and complete observation of a person, a situation or an institution. For recording what is being observed a case-study sheet is developed which documents the identity of the subject, the problem, observations made, planning of remedial action and findings.

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For what purposes could different types of research be used in the context of a DIET? Write one instance for each of the following.

  1. Descriptive Study:
  2. Experimental Study:
  3. Case Study:

Methodology of Research

Whatever the type of research, it is an indepth study of a problem. Such an analysis has to be done in an objective and systematized manner. Only then the findings of a research would have a universal application. The findings should also be verifiable. The objective way of thinking about a problem is scientific thinking.

The method of science consists of the following steps:

  1. Identification and definition of the problem
  2. Formulation of a hypothesis; a human assumption -locating variables - establishing relationships
  3. Collection, organization and analysis of data
  4. Formulation of conclusions
  5. Verification, acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis

Educational research also employs the same steps in order to study problems specific to education.

Classification of research

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There could be two broad groups in research as the physical sciences.

  1. The fundamental/basic/pure research.
  2. Applied research –> action research

Educational research is essentially looked upon as Applied research. Various aspects of education, curriculum, tests and evaluation, teacher behavior, methodology and such other areas are examined scientifically in an experimental or descriptive manner. The areas of growth and development are also taken up as case studies.

Kurt Lewin (1946), Stephen Corey (1953) advocated a scientific and reflective approach to several local problems in the school set up. This is “action research”. Most of the researches useful and adaptable to classroom practices are in the form of Action Research.


Let us try to know what action research is.

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Action Research has its origin in the works of the social psychologist Kurt Lewin (1946). He developed the ideas of group decision and commitment to improvement at work situations (classroom and administrative). It is an act of analysing a situation leading to certain action for improvement and evaluating the result of the tried out action. Action research is focussed on immediate application. It places the emphasis on the problem here and now, in a school setting. Its findings are to be evaluated in terms of local applicability and improvement in school practices. The whole purpose of Action Research is to involve classroom teachers to attempt to solve their classroom problems.

A Conceptual Analysis

Action research is a form of self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in serial situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own social or educational practices , as well as their understanding of practices and the situations in which these practices are carried out.

Groups of participants can be teachers, students, principals, parents and other community members. In education, action research has been employed in school based curriculum development, professional development, school improvement programmes and systems planning and policy development (for example, in relation to policy about classroom rules, school policies, about non-competitive assessment, and state policies about the conduct of school improvement programmes.)

The idea of linking of terms “action” and “research” highlights the essential feature of the approach : trying out ideas in practice as a means of improvement and as a means of increasing knowledge about curriculum , teaching and learning. The result is improvement in what happens in the classroom and school. Action research provides a way of working which links theory and practice into one whole: ideas-in-action.

Reflective practices seeks to make sense of processes, problems, issues, and constraints made available in strategic action.

It takes account of the variety of perspectives, possible in the social situation and comprehends the issues and circumstances in which they arise.

Refection leads to the reconstruction of the meaning of school situation and provides the basis for the revised plan. Reflection has evaluative aspect- it asks action researchers to weigh their experience – to judge whether effects and issues which arose were desirable, and suggest ways of proceeding.

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According to Stephen Corey (1953)

“Action Research must be taken up by those who may have to change the way they do think as a result of the study singly and in groups. They must use their imagination and creativity constructively to identify the practices that must be changed to meet the needs and demands of modern life, courageously try out those practices that give better promise and methodically and systematically gather evidence to test their worth.”

Mouly is of the opinion that

Action Research is an “on the spot research aimed at the solution of an immediate classroom problem.”

Kurt Lewin says,

“Action Research is applying scientific thinking to real life problems (classroom problems for teachers) and represents a great improvement over teacher’s subjective judgments and their limited personal experiences.”

According to Hammersley, 1993 (p.237)...

Action researches are small scale and narrowly focussed researches undertaken by teachers in a given context. It has also been refered to as research into practice by practitioners, for practitioners.

Scope of Action Research

Action research is focused on immediate application, not on the development of a theory, not upon general application. It has placed its emphasis on a problem here and now in a local setting. Many Action Research projects are carried out in a classroom by a single teacher. As it becomes more extensive it becomes more similar to other types of educational research. The emphasis is Action Research, not on obtaining generalisable scientific knowledge about educational problems but on obtaining knowledge concerning a specific local problem.

The function of action research therefore, is to combine the research function with teacher growth in such qualities as objective thinking, skill in research processes, ability to work harmoniously with others and develop professional spirit. Quite often, many teachers will not have the time, resources, or technical background to engage in formal research activity but more teachers can be involved in action research activity and model studies may be undertaken for the purpose of trying to improve local classroom practices.

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Key points

Characteristic features of Action Research

  1. It is situational
  2. It is a reflective inquiry
  3. It is based on scientific approach
  4. It is a scientific way of Solving Problems
  5. It is a small scale intervention
  6. It is a way to find remedies to overcome obstacles in learning
  7. It provides avenues for the teachers to be innovative
  8. It is a unified exercise to bridge the gap between theory and practice
  9. It is a way to develop self confidence in teachers
  10. It is self evaluative

Let us differentiate them…..

The difference between the fundamental or basic research and action research can be summarized as given below against certain criteria.

Difference Between Basic Research and Action Research
Criteria Basic Research Action Research
Objectives Develop and test educational theory and derive generalizations. To find solutions to problems in a specific context.
Training Intensive training is needed in Research Methodology. Limited training is needed.
Selection of a problem A wide range of methods are used to select a problem. Participating teacher identify problems during the teaching-learning processes.
Hypothesis Highly specific hypotheses are developed. Specific statement of the problem serves as hypotheses.
Review of Literature An exhaustive and thorough review of literature is required. No such thorough review of literature is needed.
Sample Considerably large sample size is required. Students studying in the class of a teacher forms sample.
Experimental Design Well thought experimental design is developed to maintain comparable conditions and reducing error and bias. Procedures are planned only in general terms.
Analysis of Data Complex analysis is often called for. Simple analysis procedures are usually sufficient.
Conclusions Conclusions may be in the form of generalizations and developing theories. Findings are local specific.
Application of results The generalizations have broad applicability Findings are used immediately in the classroom situations by participating teachers to improve their own practices

Four issues in which action research is different

  1. It is not the usual thing teachers do when think about their teaching. Action research is more systematic and collaborative in collecting evidence on which to base rigorous group reflection.
  2. It is not simply problem solving. Action research involves problem –solving, not just problem solving. It motivated by a quest to improve and understand the word by changing it and learning how to improve it from the effects of changes made.
  3. It is not research done on other people. Action research is research by particular people on their own work, to help them improve what they do, including how they work with and for others. Action research treats people as autonomous, responsible agents who participate actively in making their own practices to be more effective. It does not treat people as objects for research , but encourages people to work together as knowing subjects and agents of change and improvement.
  4. It is not ‘ the scientific method’ applied to teaching. Action research is not just about hypotheses-testing or about using data to come to conclusions. Action research is not just about hypotheses-testing or about using data to come to conclusions. Action research is concerned with changing situations, not just interpreting them like in historical sciences. Action research is systematically evolving, a living process changing both the researcher and the situations in which he/she acts; neither the natural sciences nor the historical sciences have their double aim.

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Are there Steps in Action Research?

  1. Identification of the problem
  2. Pin-pointing the problem
  3. Diagnosing the causes of the problems
  4. Formulation of action hypothesis
  5. Designing the action plan
  6. Implementation of the action programme

Implementation of the action program

Do you agree with these steps as necessary for an action research? Think it over

ಸರ್ವ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಅಭಿಯಾನ ನೀಡುವ ತರಬೇತಿಗಾಗಿ ತಯಾರಿಸಿದ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿಯನ್ನು ನೋಡಲು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನೀಡಿರುವ ಲಿಂಕ್ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ. ಈ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿಯನ್ನು ಸ ಶಿ ಅಭಿಯಾನ ತಯಾರಿಸಿದ ತರಬೇತಿ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುಗುಣವಾಗಿ ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿಪಡಿಸಿದೆ.

ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆಯ ಪ್ರಕ್ರಿಯೆ[1]

ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆಯ ಲಕ್ಷಣಗಳು ಹಾಗೂ ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆ ಕುರಿತಾಗಿ ಇರುವ ತಪ್ಪು ಕಲ್ಪನೆಗಳ ಕುರಿತಂತೆ ಇರುವ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿಯನ್ನು ನೋಡಲು ಈ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಲಿಂಕ್ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ.

ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆಯ ಲಕ್ಷಣಗಳು ಹಾಗೂ ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆ ಕುರಿತಾದ ತಪ್ಪು ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆಗಳು[2]

ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆಯ ದಾಖಲೀಕರಣ ಹಾಗೂ ಮಾಹಿತಿ ಹಂಚಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವಿಕೆ ಕುರಿತಂತೆ ಇರುವ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿಯನ್ನು ನೋಡಲು ಈ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಲಿಂಕ್ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ.

ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆಯ ದಾಖಲೀಕರಣ ಹಾಗೂ ಮಾಹಿತಿ ಹಂಚಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವಿಕೆ[3]

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List any three concerns of a DIET lecturer that could be addressed through action research.

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  1. Research is the application of scientific method in the study of a problem issue.
  2. Basic research or fundamental research contributes to the development of knowledge/theory.
  3. Applied research is socially useful - application of the knowledge generated to social concerns.
  4. Action research is useful in solving an immediate, specific problem.
  5. Action research is very useful in solving classroom problems.

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Web Resources

For further information you may check the following web resources

[4] Action Research-Major Theories

[5]What is Action Research?

[6]Five Phases of Action Research


[8]Reasons to Do Action Research

[9]You may like to read this article on Action Research: An Evolving Paradigm

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Other relevent web sites

  1. [10]Image Diagrams of Action Research
  2. [11]Improving Teaching through Classroom Action Research
  3. [12]Teacher Action Research
  4. [13]Five Phases of Action Research
  6. [15]Reasons to Do Action Research
  7. [16]Techniques for Gathering Data
  8. [17]Guidelines for Developing a Question
  9. [18]Guidelines for Data Collection
  10. [19]Sample-Improving School Attendance: Organizing a Team Approach.