Generating research from and for action—3 central ideas in Action Research

Categories: Action Research, Other, Research

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The MethodSpace focus for October is on Action Research. Our Mentors-in-Residence this month are Ernie Stringer and Alfredo Ortiz Aragon, co-authors of a new edition of the text Action Research. You can find the unfolding series of posts through this link.


Action Research: Central Ideas

In this 11-minute video I share what I believe to be the three most important ideas in action research:



  1. Acting to learn: How action is a powerful way to generate knowledge. Also, taking action is the ultimate purpose of action research.
  2. Learning, to act: How harvesting knowledge and using it to inform our actions can significantly improve the quality of our “doing”.
  3. Participation of those who know: How acting to learn, and learning to act are only meaningful if based on the knowledge and experiences the people who are closest to the issues.

Caption: Presentation given at the RWJF annual learning meeting in Jackson, Mississippi in early March 2020

Acting to learn and learning to act, when repeated, are what are known as action research cycles. There are of course many more important ideas in AR, but these three provide enough to get most of us going on approaching our work in interesting new ways!

Figure 1: Three central ideas in Action Research

We expand on this in more detail in chapter 1 of the 5th edition of our book, Action Research. You can download chapter 1 here.

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