ALARA Monograph No 7

Monograph No. 7 (2018)

Thumbs Up for Action Research in Case Studies
from the Evaluative Study of Action Research

Eileen Piggot-Irvine, Wendy Rowe and Lesley Ferkins

A four-year, global, evaluative study of action research (ESAR) has sought to explore precursors, processes and impacts/outcomes of action research (AR) projects. This paper outlines the ESAR findings from six case studies designed to contribute to understanding of how AR works, and to deepen the recently reported mixed method (MM) findings from a widespread survey with 174 respondents. The previously published ESAR indicators were used as a guide for evaluation of the cases using interviews, a survey, documentary analysis, and Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS). In seeking to advance knowledge and understanding of the elements of AR that enhance outcomes and impact, considerable alignment with the MM survey findings was revealed. The results indicate that almost all the case projects exhibited strong AR elements associated with activity for precursors (focus clarification, engagement of key stakeholders, funding and support), processes (phased and planned yet flexible activity, data collection and analysis, ongoing collaboration, leadership and management), and outcomes/impacts (change outcomes, knowledge mobilisation, continuing action). Early and ongoing collaboration within the AR team and with stakeholders was most associated with effectiveness of projects to the extent that this element will be the entire focus of a further paper. An interesting finding also was a trend to MM data collection in projects. Overall, the findings considerably address a key aim of the ESAR, that is, to advance knowledge and understanding of the elements of AR that enhance outcomes and impact, including why or why not they have been effective.

Download ALARA Monograph No. 7 - Piggot-Irvine et al, 2018 (273 KB)

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