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Running head: U6D1 DATA GATHERING

U6D1 Data-Gathering Stage in Action Research 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

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Instructor: Dr. Skot Beazley

Introduction The purpose of action research, and what sets it apart from traditional research approaches, is the manner in which and from whom data is primarily collected. Stringer (2014) points out that the first cycle of action research is gathering data through qualitative means, to obtain the perspectives and experiences of those who are directly impacted by the problem or issue. By understanding the problem, through the lens and perspective of the participants, a researcher may work towards developing interventions that create a viable solution. In the Harlem Children’s Zone project case study, background data is used to better understand the organizational construct, and allow readers to understand the anticipated outcomes that researchers were seeking. The following section will discuss the ways in which background data was used to describe the organizational context. The primary mechanism that the reader obtains an organizational context in the HCZ case study is through interviews with key stakeholders such as Geoffrey Canada and organizational


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administrators. The HCZ case study includes an in-depth discussion of the history of the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families. This explanation of the Rheedlen foundation, and its "patchwork of distinct programs serving approximately 1,500 children throughout the city" allow the reader to understand the context in which HCZ developed (Grossman, 2004, p. 2). Along with the understanding of the role of Bridgespan, Grossman lays out the historical underpinnings that set the stage for Canada and HCZ to thrive. Upon Bridgespan's introduction to Rheedlen, they along with Canada set forth on a data-gathering campaign to answer the four key questions: What was Rheedlen's theory of change? Who did it intend to help? What programs were needed to achieve its intended impact? What infrastructure, performance metrics, and funding levels would be required over time to reach its full potential? These questions were answered through "interviews with participants, other local service providers, and community members" (Grossman, 2004, p. 4). Stringer (2014) finds that the primary objective of the first phase of the action research cycle is qualitative, and employs the use of interviews to gather a thorough understanding. This is exactly what Bridgespan did when it began working with Rheedlen to understand the experiences and perspectives of the stakeholders. Once Rheedlen had


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collected the data and completed the ‘look' phase of the action research cycle, they then engaged in further internal discussions around those themes. The latter portion of the process, also known as the ‘think' phase was done with explicit focus leading to the ‘act' or action component of the action research cycle. This process is a long and laborious process for Rheedlen and its staff. Canada stated (as cited by Grossman, 2004, p. 5), "the process was harder and more time-consuming than I'd expected. It was four to five hours a week of thinking and talking, and working through issues that came up". But as Canada also suggested, when conducted with fidelity, the collection of qualitative data, through purposeful interviewing is highly productive. The ability to more accurately define the problem, and frame it in the perspective of those impacted allows the researcher to pinpoint interventions to solve the problem or issue with a higher degree of certainty. References


Running head: U6D1 DATA GATHERING

5 Grossman, A., & Curren, D. (2004). Harlem children's zone: Driving performance with measurement and evaluation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. Stringer, E. T. (2014). Action research in education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.

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