Action research design is an educational research involving collecting information regarding current educational programs and outcomes, analyzing the information, developing a plan to improve it, collecting changes after a new plan is implemented, and developing conclusions regarding the improvements. The main purpose of action research is to improve educational programs within schools. The four main types of action research design are individual research, collaborative research, school-wide research and district-wide research.
Individual action research is research conducted by one teacher or staff member. This type of research is conducted to analyze a specific task. A teacher may wonder if implementing group activities within an English class will help improve learning. The teacher alone performs research by implementing a group activity for a certain length of time. After the action is performed, the teacher analyzes the results, implements changes, or discards the program if not found to be helpful.
Collaborative research involves a group of people researching a specified topic. With collaborative research, more than one person is involved in the implementation of the new program. Typically, a group of students, larger than just one class, are tested, and the results are analyzed. Many times collaborative research involves both teachers and the principal of the school. This type of research offers the collaboration of many people working jointly on one subject. The joint collaboration often offers more benefits than an individual action research approach.
Action research programs are generally created from a problem found within an entire school. When a program is researched for an entire school, it is called school-wide action research. For this type of action research, a school may have concerns about a school-wide problem. This can be lack of parental involvement or research to increase students' performance in a certain subject. The entire staff works together through this research to study the problem, implement changes, and correct the problem or increase performance.
District-wide research is used for an entire school district. This type of action research is usually more community-based than the other types. This type may also be used to address organizational problems within the entire district. For district-wide research, staff from each school in the district, collaborates in correcting the problem or finding ways to improve the situation.