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U6A2 Journal: From Context to Improvement Benjamin Merrill EDD8302 Becoming a Critical Consumer of Action Research

2434 3rd Street Baker City, OR 97814 Phone: 541-519-0082 Email: ben.merrill@bakersd.org Instructor: Dr. Skot Beazley


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Introduction The context of an action research project is the basis for explaining the relationship between the background information that is collected about an organization, and the future improvement that it is setting out to make. Stringer (2014) suggests that the basic problem existing in an action research project is to identify the nature of the issue and then carefully determine how it might be stated. To do this, the context of the organization and its problem must be clearly articulated in order to set upon an intervention with any degree of accuracy. Unless a researcher accurately identifies the context of an organization, they will be unable to find the correct relationship between the problem and the solution. Denzin suggests (as cited by Stringer, 2014) that managers or policy makers tend to create interventions based upon their prior understanding or inaccurate perception of the problem. This lack of clarity of the context of the problem is attributed to a one-size fits all approach to problem-solving. Stringer (2014) goes on to highlight the need for an action researcher to conduct the first cycle of investigation with an open mind to how stakeholders within the groups interpret the problem as they perceive it. "Only then can a research project frame questions that provide sufficient direction to an investigation that enables it to accomplish an effective outcome" (Stringer, 2014, p. 100). By putting the problem into the context of those who are experiencing the problem, and understanding the nature of the organization, an action researcher can develop interventions that will solve the problem as see by those who experience it. If not, an action researcher may perceive the problem in a different way or may perceive no problem exists whatsoever. Stringer (2014) clarifies this point by stating "we seek to understand participant


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experiences in order to work toward a viable solution in which people will invest their time and energies" (p.101). To accomplish these goals, and accurately understand the context of an action research project, the research must observe firsthand the problem and participate in a number of direct interviews with those experiencing the problem. Stringer (2014) found that researchers have a better opportunity to observe the research context by observing the stakeholders experiencing the problem first hand. This experience would allow the researcher to see the clear relationship between the background information and the improvement sought. Without this experience, the researcher is basing potential interventions and solutions on judgments that are likely biased based on prior experiences.


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References Stringer, E. (2014). Action research (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications. ISBN: 9781452205083.

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