Action Research for Educational, Professional, and Personal Change


(last update 28 August 10)
Refer also to

Stages of development for Action Research Design project

From the course syllabus:
Carrying out the design is applauded, but not required. If you carry out the design (or some of it), you should report on what you have actually done and how you would proceed differently if you were to do it over. It is important that you do not let implementing your action/intervention eclipse attention to designing the other aspects of the Action Research or to redesigning the AR steps you have already taken.

The design project should not be seen as a "final term paper," but as a process of development that involves:
To facilitate that process, there is a sequence of seven assignments with the goals described below. The general expectation for these assignments is that you will pull together the work you have done and reflect on the experience in ways that fit the tasks you take on and your own situation and style. You should submit an initial version of the assignment, however sketchy, on the due date. Instructor responses will then help you develop your contribution to the AR still remaining. Examples of previous students' work are linked here as well as to the specific assignment on the assignment checklist wikipage and the notes to follow. The examples can be consulted to indicate the range of ways students tackle an assignment; they are not models to be copied. (If the link does not work, the example has not yet been uploaded.)


Each assignment will count if marked OK/RNR (=Reflection-revision-resubmission Not Requested) meaning you have met almost all of the guidelines summarized below, but Revision and Resubmission will be requested if you have not. Comments made as part of Dialogue around written work provide guidance tailored to each student's specific interests and needs.

1. 1st Reflection on your Experience as Novice Action Researchers

350-500 words that relate your experience to some points in the reading from Schmuck. Comment on what we did that was or was not covered by him and what he advocates that we didn’t do.

2. Initial paragraph overview

Building on your in-class strategic personal planning, compose an initial overview of your design project. This overview may, several revisions later, end up setting the scene in the introduction of your project. In one or two prose paragraphs (not disconnected points a.k.a. "bullets"), an overview should convey the action (i.e., the change or intervention) that you would be interested in making and how you envisage addressing each of the aspects of Action Research, (Carrying out the design is applauded, but not required. If you carry out the design (or some of it), you should report on what you have actually done and how you would proceed differently if you were to do it over. It is important that you do not let implementing your action/intervention eclipse attention to designing the other aspects of the Action Research.)
Previous semesters’ projects are available for viewing through a password-protected link.

3. KAQ (a variant of KNF)

Using the worksheet and instructions, work through the whole KAQ (and F) for each point and use the additional questions in parentheses (perhaps with another student as sounding board) to check your thinking. The expectation for this assignment is that use of this tool won’t come naturally and you will need coaching to tease out and then tighten your thinking.

4. Evaluation clock

Before attempting the assignment, read the guide to the Evaluation clock. At the end of the guide are the templates for the full clock and the stripped-down clock. For 4a, scroll down to the stripped-down clock and use the comparison steps 2-4 of to identify a specific action (i.e., the change or intervention) and its effects to evaluate. Answer the questions carefully for each step. For 4b, complete the full clock spelled out with actual or plausible steps that relate to the specific comparison. But move on to 4b only when you have got the hang of 4a. The expectation for the Evaluation clock assignment is that you will not get it right the first time, but will need coaching to produce the focused comparison steps and the recursive full clock.

5a. Work-in-progress presentations

Preparing presentations, hearing yourself deliver them, and getting feedback usually leads to self-clarification of the overall direction of your project and of your priorities for further work. In this spirit, 10-15 minute presentations of your work-in-progress are scheduled early in your projects and a bit later on – they are necessarily on work-in-progress. Convey the important features of work you have already done and, to elicit useful feedback during 3-5 minutes of Q&A, indicate also where additional investigation or advice are needed and where you think that might lead you. In the second presentation highlight the work you have done since the initial presentation, especially any rethinking made in response to comments made on the initial presentation, notes on research and planning, and narrative outline. (Reread short description of design project to remind yourself that your presentation should show how you would design all the aspects of Action Research even if you don't get to carry them out.) (Note: Your presentation time includes setup, 3-5 minutes of Q&A, and packup.)

5b. Notes on research and planning

Pull together notes on your reading and your thinking and present it in a form organized so it can elicit useful comments from a reader (in this case, me). To show your planning, you should submit an updated paragraph overview (see #2 above) and an outline and/or evaluation clock. (Reread short description of design project to remind yourself that your notes should address how you would design all the aspects of Action Research even if you don't get to carry them out.) To show that you are finding out what others have been doing in your area of interest, which includes evaluations of past changes or interventions like yours, you should include annotated bibliography of readings done or planned. Record the full citations for your sources, including those from the WWW. I recommend using a bibliographic database—Endnote can be downloaded for a 30 day trial from; Refworks is free through the library.

6. Narrative outline

A narrative outline is an outline or plan of your report of the design project with explanatory sentences inserted at key places:

7. Project report

1500-2500 words, plus bibliography of references cited.
Whatever form your report takes, make sure you explain why you have designed this Action Research. You should also include material that conveys your process of development during the project and personal/professional development plans for the future. The report should not be directed to the instructor, but conceived as something helpful to readers like your CCT student colleagues. The report shoold "GOSP" readers--Grab their attention, Orient them, and move through Steps so that they appreciate the Position you have led them to and how it matches the subject of your project.
For the report to be counted as final, you must have revised in response to comments from instructor and peers on a complete draft. (The draft must get to the end to count as complete, even if some sections along the way are only sketches.) Allow time for the additional investigation and thinking that may be entailed.

Participation and contribution to the class process (33 items)

B. Building learning community (17 items)
Prepared participation and punctual attendance at class meetings are expected, but allowance is made for other priorities in your life. You are not required to give excuses for absence, lateness, or lack of preparation. Simply make up the 80% of participation items in other ways (C-G). One item fulfilled for each class attended except NOT if you arrive late and have been more than 10 minutes late once or more before and NOT if you are clearly unprepared/un-participating and have been so once or more before.
For online section only: If you cannot attend a WIMBA meeting, you should view/listen to the recording of the meeting (on WIMBA) and upload the makeup notes to the session participation box on your personal 693checklist page. The makeup notes required may be specified on the discussion thread. If not, identify one point from the start, another from the middle, and one from the end that was new to you, or that was unclear to you, and explain what you thought about it, or what you need to understand to get clear about the point.

B2. In order to get oriented to the various course materials and mechanics, complete the "syllabus quiz" and submit week 2.

B3. Weekly buddy check-ins (=3 items for 12 check-ins) (instructions & signup: face2face section,online section)

C. Summaries of Readings (3 items)
These summaries of issues raised by the readings in weeks 9, 10, and 12 should be thought of as resources you are providing for other students (current and future), who might not have time to read the article OR who might need stimulation/guidance about what they decide to make time to read. You may post a revision of an existing entry to improve its informativeness or indicate a difference of interpretation. (Posting your summaries or revisions to diigo is new in '10. Diigo will link you to previous summaries which were posted to a wiki, but you are not being asked to post summaries to a wiki. Instead, use the comment feature on diigo to add your summary or revision directly to any item tagged "693itemC".)

D. Personal/Professional Development Workbook (7 items)
In your workbook and/or personal wikipage keep records or products of homework, Action Research tasks, and buddy check-ins, preparation for assignments, weekly journal-type reflections on the course and classes, notes on readings, clippings, e-clippings. Explore, when appropriate, the relationship between, on one hand, your interests and possible projects and, on the other hand, the readings and activities.
You can choose to keep your Personal/Professional Development workbook on your CCT-xx wiki (with homepage at Only attempt this if you are comfortable editing wikis. The alternative is to keep your PD workbook in a word file and upload that file to your 693checklist wikipage from time to time.

D1. For each new tool that is introduced during classes, make an entry in your PPD workbook on possible applications of the tool to your project. Also include notes on weekly buddy check-ins (2 items). Have this perused during the 1st conference or before the mid-semester break.
If you are using the workbook effectively, it should convey your developing process of preparing to practice the tools and of critical thinking about course readings, activities, and discussions. Those of you who find it hard to make space for journaling/reflection should stay 10 minutes after class and write while your thoughts are fresh. When you first show me the PD workbook for perusal, I will let you know if you need to show more processing and organize the workbook better.

D2. The worksheet submitted in week 6 will allow me to make further suggestions about your PD workbook and research organization.

D3. During the last class I peruse the PD workbooks (on the wiki or in hard copy). Bind together pages with post-its or otherwise indicate which bits you do not want me to look at. One item fulfilled if it shows you have responded to suggestions and been working consistently between classes.

D4. (2 items) web-"Clippings" -- To keep up with current developments—and get you into the habit of this for your lifelong learning— look for articles related to educational, professional, and personal change in newspapers, magazines, journals, and websites. Find the article on the web and use to bookmark it and add it to the actionresearch group. Annotations should convey your own reflections on specific points in the article and say enough to allow others to judge whether they want to follow the link and read more. Include link to the annotations in your online PD workbook or a printout in your hard copy PD workbook. Aim for one every 2 weeks. (3-5 postings makes 1 item; 6+ makes 2 items).

D5. Process review -- Before the last class, identify 4-6 examples that capture the process of development of your work and thinking about Action research for educational, professional, and personal change. Journaling, freewriting, drafts, etc. may be included, that is, not simply your best products. Explain your choices in a 250-500 word cover note (included also on your wikipage) and through annotations (large post-its are a good way to do this for hard copy version). Submit with your PD workbook.

E. In-office or phone Conferences (2 items)
for discussion of comments on assignments (see Dialogue around written work), ideas for course projects, your PD workbook, and the course as a whole. They are important to ensure timely resolution of misunderstandings and to get a recharge if you get behind. Appointments missed without notifying instructor in advance count as a participation item not fulfilled.

F. Peer commentary on your buddy's work in each 4-week period and on another student's draft report (with copy posted on peer share wiki) (=4 items)
After the draft report is completed, you should comment on another student's draft. Send me a copy of your comments by email and/or include it in PD workbook. Keep Elbow, Writing with Power, chapters 3 & 13 and Varieties of responses in mind when you decide what approaches to commenting you ask for as a writer and what to use as a commentator. In the past I made lots of specific suggestions for clarification and change in the margins, but in my experience, such suggestions led only a minority of students beyond touching up into re-thinking and revising their ideas and writing. On the other hand, I believe that all writers value comments that reassure them that they have been listened to and their voice, however uncertain, has been heard.
(examples of commentary on draft reports; peer commentary on your buddy's work is new in 2010)

Other Processes in the Course

Submission of Writing in a Professional and Instructor-friendly manner

Dialogue around written work

Rationale for the Assessment system
The different assignments are commented on then "graded" either OK or revise & resubmit. An automatic B+ is awarded for 80% (approx.) of written assignments OK/RNR and participation items fulfilled. The rationale for this system is to keep the focus of our teaching/learning interactions on your developing through the semester. It allows more space for students and instructor to appreciate and learn from what each other is saying and thinking. My goal is to work with everyone to achieve the 80% satisfactory completion level. Students who progress steadily towards that goal during the semester usually end up producing work that meets the criteria in the syllabus for a higher grade than a B+.
Use the Assignment Check-list to keep track of your own progress. To gauge whether you are on track for at least a B+, simply note whether you have submitted 80% of the assignments by the dates marked and attended 80% of the classes. If you are behind do NOT hide and do NOT end the semester without a completion contract. You are free to do more than 80% of the assignments and fulfill more than 80% of the participation items, but it does not hurt your grade to choose strategically to miss some in light of your other work and life happenings. Ask for clarification if needed to get clear and comfortable with this system.

Technological competencies you will need for this course.
In addition, you can choose to keep your Personal/Professional Development workbook on your CCT-xx wiki (with homepage at Only attempt this if you are comfortable editing wikis.

Learning Community and email group/list
Individually and as a group, you already know a lot about educational, professional, and personal change. You can learn a lot from each other and from teaching others what you know. The email group or list (i.e., emails sent to can be used to help the community develop.

Activities for "self-affirming" learning
Students already know a lot. If this knowledge is elicited and affirmed, they are more able to learn from others. Activities such as freewriting bring to the surface students' insight that they were not able, at first, to acknowledge. Over the course of the semester, students are encouraged to recognize that there is insight in every response and share their not-yet-stable aspects. The trust required takes time to establish.

Tools for Action Research Process
Each week introduces a different tool or practice for aspects of the Action Research process, which, in brief, involves evaluation and inquiry, reflection and dialogue, planning, and constituency building in order to get actions implemented, take stock of the outcomes, and continue developing your efforts. Handouts on the tools are linked to the course website and this wiki when they are ready.
Tools that are introduced for

Guided freewriting


Taking stock
during semester ("formative evaluation")

at end of semester