Plan, Act, Observe, and Reflect
Action research methodology is outcome based in that it aims to improve the methods used in educational, social science, community, and other settings. Also known as participatory research, it calls for insight, reflection, and personal involvement with the topic being explored. It is conducted in real world settings by the people directly involved with the problem or situation being investigated. Most commonly used in the Education field, MAT and M.Ed. candidates will most likely perform these types of research projects during their graduate studies. For the education graduate student, action research is not a bland analysis of data but a deliberate assessment of the impact specific actions have on student achievement.
After a problem or subject to examine is recognized, there are four, repeated steps: Plan, Act, Observe, and Reflect. (O’Brien, 1998) Changes should be made to the plan, and the steps repeated until the researcher is satisfied he has fully explored the effectiveness of the action(s) taken and adjustments implemented. The observation methods are left to the discretion of the researcher or researchers. Interviews, collection of quantitative data, note-taking, and discussion are all possible observation and reflection techniques.