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The Action Research Dissertation


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Table of Contents

Foreword Preface Acknowledgments About the Authors 1. Introduction: What Is an Action Research Dissertation? The Many Faces of Action Research Toward a Definition of Action Research The Action Research Dissertation 2. Action Research Traditions and Knowledge Interests The Multiple Traditions of Action Research Action Research and Organizational Development/Learning Action Science Participatory Research: The Legacy of Paulo Freire Participatory Evaluation Action Research and Community Psychology Action Research in Education The Teacher-as-Researcher Movement in Britain The Practitioner Research Movement in North America The Danger of Co-Optation Participatory Action Research with Youth: YPAR Action Research as Narrative: Self-Study and Autoethnography Arts-Based Approaches to Action Research Feminist, Post-Colonial, and Antiracist Approaches to Action Research The Knowledge Interests of Action Research Notes 3. The Continuum of Positionality in Action Research Insider: Researcher Studies Own Self/Practice Insider in Collaboration With Other Insiders Insider(s) in Collaboration With Outsider(s) PAR: Reciprocal Collaboration (Insider-Outsider Teams) PAR: Outsider(s) in Collaboration With Insider(s) Outsider(s) Studies Insider(s) Multiple Positionalities The Outsider-Within Stance as a Flawed Approach to Action Research Conclusion Note 4. Quality Criteria for Action Research: An Ongoing Conversation Delegitimizing Action Research: Opposition in the Academy Redefining Rigor: Criteria of Quality for Action Research Reason and Bradbury's Discussion of Validity and Choice Points Addressing Bias in Action Research Are the Findings of Action Research Generalizable? The Politics of Action Research Institutional Micropolitics The Politics of Redefining Professionalism The Politics of Knowledge The Macropolitics of Action Research Projects Note 5. Designing the Plane While Flying it: Proposing and Doing the Dissertation Possibilities of a Pilot Study The Dissertation Proposal Introducing the Proposed Inquiry Situating the Study in Relevant Literature Methodological Considerations Data Analysis and Representation Where Do Action Research Questions Come From? Insider Action Research Outsider Action Research Issues of Design and Methodology Designing Insider Action Research Designing Outsider Action Research The Literature Review: Literature in Dialogue With the Data Writing the Dissertation Defending the Dissertation 6. What Does an Action Research Dissertation Look Like? Lynne Mock: Carving a Dissertation Out of a PAR Project The Entry Process Creating Participatory Structures Writing the Dissertation Emphasizing the Strengths of Action Research Researcher-Initiated PAR Studies Initiating the PAR Study The Emergent Design of the PAR Process Collaborative Data Analysis Disseminating the Results: Multiple Forms of Representation and Audiences John Mark Dyke: Insider Action Research First Phase of the Work Iterative Cycles of Inquiry The Dissertation Research Gary W. Street: A Principal Cultivating Action Research Conclusion Note 7. Ethical Considerations and Action Research Working with Institutional Review Process Ethics in Practice Authentic Collaboration Learning to Be Researchers Who's the Writing For? Moving Beyond Do No Harm 8. Final Thoughts References Index

About the Author

Kathryn G. Herr is a faculty member in the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey. She is co-author of the book Studying Your Own School: An Educator's Guide to Qualitative Practitioner Research (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 1994). She is also Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Youth and Society. Her professional background is in Social Work and Education. Gary L. Anderson is a professor in the Department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. He is a former teacher and high school principal. He has written numerous articles on action research with co-author Kathryn Herr as well as articles and books on educational policy and leadership. He is the author of Advocacy Leadership: Toward a Post-reform Agenda (Routledge).


"This book fills an important gap in the action research literature by specifically addressing the growing practice of action research master s studies and doctoral dissertations in colleges and universities throughout the world. Like the authors previous work, this book provides a broad and clear overview of the varieties of action research. The discussion of the underlying choices that action researchers operating in a university degree program need to make and how such choices affect the quality of an action research project from different perspectives is an extremely valuable resource for students and faculty. I plan to use this book with my own graduate students on a regular basis."--Ken Zeichner
"The Action Research Dissertation should be required reading for any student contemplating using an action research approach in a thesis or dissertation project. Kathryn Herr and Gary Anderson serve as able and amiable navigators through the challenging but equally rewarding process of planning, carrying out, and completing an action research dissertation. Clear explanations, compelling exemplars, and an honest discussion of the challenges of conducting an action research project combined with a sense of the passion and commitment of those who choose this path, make the volume a balanced and engaging guide to all would-be action researchers."--Mary Brydon-Miller
"Finally, a thoughtful, accessible, and immensely helpful volume designed to promote dialogue among doctoral students and faculty about dissertation studies grounded in the everyday worlds of practice. By creating spaces for deep discussion about the decisions dissertators make (rather than proposing and arguing for particular solutions), the book sets doctoral researchers on their own quest for meaning, clarity and coherence. The rhetoric and contents of the book thus mirror its authors commitment to agency for doctoral students seeking to make their inquiries of value both within and beyond the academy."--Susan Lytle
The authors have deftly produced a thoughtful, comprehensive, and much needed overview of the process of creating an action research dissertation that is sure to benefit generations of students and their faculty mentors."--Davydd Greenwood

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