An Annotated Bibliography on Action Research

Altrichter, H., Posch, P., & Somekh, B. (1993). Teachers investigate their work: An introduction to the methods of action research London, UK: Routledge.

This is an excellent methods book for teachers who want to conduct research into their own practice. The authors hope that the book will inspire teachers to take control of the development of schools and help them resolve their professional problems. Action research (AR) is promoted as way for teachers to share their professional experiences and raise awareness regarding the professional thinking that informs their practice. The book is also an excellent reference for researchers in other fields. The chapters are organized according to the phases of the AR process. These include details concerning starting a project, maintaining a journal, clarifying the issue, collecting and analyzing data, developing action strategies, and sharing teacher knowledge. The final chapter looks at the theoretical foundations of AR. Of particular interest are the 40 concise summaries of strategies and methods that are provided throughout the book. These are suggested as useful handouts for courses or projects.

Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness San Francisco, CA:, Jossey-Bass.

A classic, this book is about explaining human action particularly in the social contexts such as organizations. The authors focus not only on action but how to create action, or rare events, by intervention. Part One lays out the genesis of the authors’ ideas about theories of action and theories-in-use. Part Two discusses the specific theories-in-use that affect ineffective and effective interpersonal and professional behaviour. The last part explores the strategies and environments that are most likely to engender successful interventions.

Elliott, J. (1991). Action research for educational change. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Teacher professional development through action research is the topic of this book. It begins with a look at action research as it emerged, in Britain, in the context of school intitiated change of the 1960’s and proceeds to examine the methodological issues relating to the use of action research for professional learning in schools. The author has extensive experience as an academic working to facilitate and promote the teachers-as-researchers movement in the UK. In addition to presenting case studies of his work, Elliott identifies some of the tensions he has experienced between the cultures of teachers and teacher educators in academe. He also explains how government policy is deprofessionalizing the role of the teacher and eroding the traditional culture of teaching as a craft. One chapter serves as a practical guide to action research but the series editor remarks in the introduction that the author, having used this guide with teachers, advises that it should be used a as guide to test against experience rather than a prescription. The final chapters look at three policy contexts, the national curriculum, teacher appraisal, and competence-based teacher training, within which future action research must be forged.

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