Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Door

Dr. Judith Newman:
"The difficult thing about doing action research is that you have to override most of what you've learned about research as an activity. In a traditional research culture you begin by framing a question, setting up a situation which might provide some information, collecting data which bears on the question, then writing up results.

Action research isn't like that at all. The research activity begins in the middle of whatever it is you're doing — something happens that you didn't expect ... ...and you begin wondering about what's going on.

The dilemma in an action research situation is you may not even realize something interesting has occurred that you ought to think about unless you're already in the habit of keeping a journal or reflective log...

...For unlike traditional research, action research begins not with a research question but with the muddle of daily work, with the moments that stand out from the general flow, and unless we record those moments they vanish, unavailable as data for reflection, for discerning some larger pattern of experience...

...we really learn most from the unexpected — it's when something didn't go as we though it should, or someone's response was different than we thought it would be, or they do something we wouldn't have done, or we would have done it in a different way, that we can begin to see what our expectations/assumptions are.

As action researchers we're trying to examine our assumptions. But, obviously, before we can examine assumptions, we need to discover what they are. By exploring both familiar and unfamiliar situations we position ourselves to be able to interrogate our professional practice...

...The point of engaging in action research, in my estimation, is to help me uncover my assumptions and to examine my instructional practices...

...The outcome of such self-education is recognizing the tensions, conflicts, and contradictions operating...

...But recognizing inconsistency isn't the end of practice-as-inquiry. As I learn to detect disparities between my practice and theory, I need to take action; I need to change what I do."