Action Research: Purpose, Problem Statement, Question(s), and Literature Review

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Action research is generally associated with education, but in recent years, more organizations and disciplines are using this approach to solve problems. The ultimate purpose of action research is to assist a school or organization in developing a culture that relies on data collection and analysis to make decisions.

In Module 1, you considered a problem, issue, or area of concern for an action research study relevant to your school or organization, completed a “Thinking It Through” activity, and developed an annotated bibliography to locate potential literature sources.

You will use your work in Module 1 to begin development of your action research study. In this assignment, you will describe the purpose and problem statement for your action research study. You will also identify 1 to 3 research questions, issues, problems, or concerns; compose a question(s) to guide your action research, and conduct a literature review to help you answer your research question(s). You may use the sources from the Module 1 annotated bibliography or search again for articles that better align to your research in progress.

Course Objectives

  • Explain basic research concepts and the role of theories and frameworks in the research process.
  • Describe action research, its process, and relationship to practice.
  • Describe research dimensions, purposes, methods, designs, and paradigms.
  • Directions:

    1) Review the Module 2 Application PDF.

    2) Create a Word or text document for your response. Use 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font. Follow APA (6th edition) format.

    3) Create a title page and references page in APA (6th edition) format for your research paper.

    4) Follow the directions to complete Part 1 and Part 2. You should begin your three to five-page research paper in this module and include the purpose of your research (to describe), problem statement, one to three research questions, and a literature review of three peer-reviewed articles.

    5) Before you submit your document, save a copy. You will refer to this document in Module 3’s assignment.

    6) Follow the directions to submit your final Word or text document.

    Research Methods for Early Childhood Education

    Part 1: Purpose, Problem Statement and Research Questions

    Directions:

    1) Review “Thinking It Through” in the Module 1 assignment.

    2) Access the article, Action Research to Improve Teaching and Learning, by Roberta Ross-Fisher in the Ebsco-Proquest database. This article describes the steps of action research, including the development of a problem statement and research questions. While the article is focused on education, it provides guidance for action researchers in any discipline.

    3) Read through the bulleted questions and explanations in Part 1 below this set of directions to find more assistance in generating a problem statement and research question(s) for your action research paper.

    4) Compose an introductory paragraph in which you grab the reader’s attention and state the purpose of your research. Remember, your research purpose is to describe the situation.

    5) Compose a problem statement for your research paper. Summarize the problem and the setting and context for the study. Support the problem with data.

    6) From your problem statement, generate from one to three research questions. Questions should not have yes/no answers, and they should require research to answer.

  • What wonderings do you have about your professional practice? What do you need to know more about to be optimally effective? What situations need to be examined? Think specifically about your specific school or organizational situation, and avoid outside issues and conditions over which you have little control.
  • From your wonderings and thoughts about what you need to know or examine, select an issue or concern and explain why it is important to you. Clearly articulate your concern or issue as a problem statement. How do you know it is a problem? What evidence do you have that the problem is worth investigating? What are the chances an investigation might lead to action on your part to improve or resolve the problem?
  • There are times when it is difficult to clearly state a problem because you don’t yet know enough to do so. This may dictate the first phase of your action research project will involve gathering data leading to a clear statement and suggesting appropriate action to be taken in a follow-up phase. If this characterizes what you are contemplating, then the research you carry out will be exploratory and problem-defining, and your final action research report in Module 5 will need to include a detailed description of phase two complete with action to be taken and data-gathering methods to assess the effects of this action.
  • In contrast, what you are contemplating may allow for a final problem statement and definitive action from the outset with your initial round of data gathering designed to assess action effects. In these cases, your description of next steps in your final report in Module 4 will not have to include an additional action to be taken and could describe some type of expansion, extension, or replication.
  • From your problem statement, formulate researchable questions – at least one and no more than three for the purposes of this assignment. Each question should be narrowly focused, specific, and researchable. You will need to consider your student population, your desired outcome, and how you might bring about that outcome, assuming enough is known about the problem to spell all of this out. For example, you may have noticed that girls are not performing well in science. The problem is reasonably clear, so you can ask, “Will grouping by gender during science work improve the participation of female students?”
  • Research Methods for Early Childhood Education

  • Another example may be low journal-writing production, and you have read in the literature that word walls may help. This problem is also clear, so you can ask, “Will interactive word walls improve the journal writing of my kindergarten students?” If you still have “why” questions, they will need to be recast to make them researchable beginning with “how,” “what,” “does,” “will,” etc. If formulated correctly, these are essentially hypotheses.
  • Part 2: Literature Review

  • In Module 1, you completed an annotated bibliography to help you firm up your ideas for your action research study. Some or all of these sources may be appropriate to your literature review. However, if your research has taken off in a new direction or you’ve decided you need different perspectives, use the Ebsco database to
  • locate additional peer-reviewed articles.

  • For your literature review, you need at least three professional, peer-reviewed articles related to your concern, problem statement, and specific question(s). Good, relevant articles will help you to begin answering your questions and solving your problem.
  • Tutorials for conducting research are available: Digital Learning Connections Resources and Tips

    o Remember, when you search, be sure to place a check on the box for “peer reviewed,” so you are sure to use only peer-reviewed studies. Articles reporting on one or more empirical studies will likely be the most useful, but there are theoretical articles describing programs, interventions, and methodologies to help you decide on the appropriate action to take or propose.

  • Compose a brief overview of each article synthesizing common and differing points.
  • Cite your sources using APA (6th edition) style, and reference all three in an APA-style reference list at the end of your paper. Place titles in your reference list only, not in the body of your paragraphs.
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