Action research then involves both researchers and

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approach. Action research then: Involves both researchers and practitioners (or practitioners as researchers within their own organization). Can be highly structured and involve the use of experimental and control groups used to test a hypothesis. Can also be quite unstructured and used inductively (and qualitatively). 30 PRINCIPLES AND PLANNING FOR RESEARCH Gray 2e(Research)-3778-Ch-02:Gray 2e(Research)-3778-Ch-02.qxp 10/7/2008 5:21 PM Page 30
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CASE STUDY 2.5 ACTION RESEARCH A group of 20 teachers provide intensive educational support to children with special educational, emotional and physical needs in four community schools. The educational attainment of the special needs children in these schools has remained depressingly low over time. The special needs teach- ers decide to undertake an action research study using their four schools as the experimental cohort and four other schools in the district as the con- trol. Working collaboratively with their other teaching colleagues in the school, a series of 10 ‘mould-breaking’ workshops are run in which issues are explored and new solutions formulated. These are prioritized and a number of solutions implemented in the second semester. The educational attainment and other indicators are then calculated for the children from the four schools involved in the action research project, and compared to those of children in the other district schools (the control). Action research methods will be considered in more detail in Chapter 12. HEURISTIC INQUIRY Heuristic inquiry is a process that begins with a question or a problem which the researcher tries to illuminate or find an answer to. The question itself is usually focused on an issue that has posed a personal problem and to which answers are required. It seeks, through open-ended inquiry, se lf-directed search and immer- sion in active experience, to ‘get inside’ the question by becoming one with it. According to Moustakas (1990), one of the primary processes of heuristic research is self-dialogue in which the researcher enters into a conversation with the phenomenon and is questioned by it. It is hoped that the process will lead to self-discoveries, awareness and enhanced understanding. Through this, the researcher is able to develop the skills and ability to understand the problem itself and, in turn, to develop the understanding of others. Philosophically, heuristic inquiry does not start from the premise that there is an external ‘objective’ truth to be discovered. In contrast, it starts phenomeno- logically from the belief that understanding grows out of direct human experi- ence and can only be discovered initially through self-inquiry. Heuristic research, then, is autobiographical, providing for a deep, personal analysis. It is richly descriptive, but also strongly subjective, and weak in terms of generalizability.
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