Action research is the foundation of improving self, school and student performance. It is a systematic approach to investigating problems or “wonderings” that occur in the lives of educators, administrators and school districts alike. It can be an individual undertaking, a self-paced professional development based on reflective inquiry, but it is best applied to collaborative efforts such as educational teams or Professional Learning Communities. Unlike traditional research which is usually geared towards developing new ideas and carried out by persons outside of a school/district, action research serves to solve problems or improve performance and is usually carried out by practitioners such as teachers or administrators within the unique setting of their own school/district.
Action research has great benefit in an educational setting. The benefit of action research is dependent upon how involved practitioners are in its implementation. It encourages reflective practice and helps build bonds between team members and principals. It is an ongoing collaborative project and, in this way, action research helps the practitioner take ownership of changing culture. It promotes a climate of shared vision and student improvement based on the collection of data, reflecting on that data, making an action plan, taking action, assessing the results of that action and adjusting or maintaining the plan to continue building on improvement.