Action research is a type of research method that aims at solving a certain problem or discussing a reflective process the goal of which is to find a solution to a problem. As a rule, it is done by an educator or a group of educators for other educators who are in need of new perspectives. The purpose of such kind of work is to achieve positive change. Grada, Laorie, Linehan, Boylan, and Connolly are the authors of the article “Naming the Parts: A Case-Study of a Gender Equality Initiative with Academic Women” written for Gender in Management: An International Journal. They used an action research case study as the main method for discussing the debates in the fields of management and education.
The goal of the chosen article is to develop an argument about the effectiveness of various types of gender equality interventions that may occur in the academic context and promote the development of gender awareness (Grada, Laorie, Linehan, Boylan, & Connolly, 2015). The focus of the paper is a real problem of practice developed by the representatives of an Irish University. The project is called Through the Glass Ceiling (TTGC). It helps to develop mentoring for women in the academic field and to introduce the activities with the help of which gender equality can be sustained (Grada et al., 2015). Gender issues and inequality in career progression are frequent problems in many organizations and countries, and their solution is the goal people want to achieve.
Collaboration with Stakeholders
Action research is the method that helps to identify the issues, examine literature, plan and implement interventions, and investigate the outcomes (Grada et al., 2015). In this article, the researchers have to develop professional relations with the participants of the TTGC project and use the information offered. Besides, wider organizational stakeholders are invited. Such type of collaboration is the key to action research. Besides, the researchers are women, and they can recognize themselves as a part of the study, and their direct participation is a unique feature of the project. The level of cooperation between the researchers and stakeholders is high and promoted the achievement of clear and definite results.
Reflection on the Problem
The offered action research paradigm and the evaluation are introduced as an effective tool for the description and understanding the existing gender dynamics that can be found in academia and promote change. The research process is based on careful and organized reflection on the problem of gender inequality. First, the researchers use the literature review as the method to gather information and create the background for action research. Then, the authors develop explanations on how to use managerialism in institutions. Finally, the interventions are introduced and explained in terms of their social structures. The quality of the reflection can be proved by the order of the thoughts and the outcomes achieved. The strength of the chosen method is the possibility to identify the problem on the basis of the issues that were neutral and find the solution with the help of which female academics can get certain benefits in their future career development.
Looking at the reference list that is four-page long in the article, it is possible to say that multiple sources of information are used in order to cover the topic from different perspectives and identify the main issues for consideration. In addition to a number of scholarly articles published during the last several decades, the authors are able to describe the situation and prove its urgency in the management and academic fields. The reports of the TTGC project and different programs’ reviews help to observe what has been already achieved and what needs to be achieved. Qualitative feedbacks and video interviews of TTGC participants are gathered. Notes of meetings help to add value to the project. Finally, several books help to create the basis for the study, underline the role of women in different fields, and clarify what challenges really matter.
Action Plan Development
In this article, the actions that may support women in their career development are defined as those with a certain degree of transformation (Grada et al., 2015). The evaluation of the case study and action research highlight the plan with the help of which it is possible to support women and promote the development of gender awareness. The offered interventions taken from the TTGC project turn out to be effective as soon as they become a part of an integrated institutional equality agenda (Grada et al., 2015). For example, mentoring schemes assist women in reaching beyond their careers and changing their future. It is also suggested to consider individual women as actors in a certain gendered institution and to improve critical awareness. Finally, women should be provided with some space for their critical reflection in order to prove their commitment to change.
The goal of any action research is to develop a plan with a number of meaningful actions which can address the problem practice. In this article, the plan is properly described and explained. It is not enough to read the article and learn the lesson. It is necessary to comprehend the perceptions of other women who have already experienced the impact of the interventions and shared their thoughts. All actions are meaningful because they can be supported by credible sources and the responses of people who use their personal experience as the main evidence.
This article adds a lot to the knowledge about the topic of gender equality, leadership, and higher education. First, the evaluation techniques are properly introduced. Second, the integration of the material taken from different sources helps to create a strong basis for action research. Finally, Gender inequality is the problem that bothers millions of people worldwide, and the offered action research and interventions show that change is the only solution that can lead to effective and positive results.
Action and evaluation research may be of different types and have certain characteristics to be considered by any researcher. Any action research aims at describing an action by means of research and using the knowledge of educators to improve educational practices (Carr & Kemmis, 2009; Swepson, 2014). There are many ways of how action research can be organized, and the following chart includes the basics about two main research methods which are practical action research and participatory action research. Formative evaluation and summative evaluation are the types of evaluation research, the goal of which is to identify and analyze a program (Chen, 2005).
Research Design Chart
|Name||Design Description||Participant/Sampling Techniques||Types of Data Collected||Example||Source to Rely on|
|Practical action research||A way to conduct research that is epistemologically sound and valuable. It is characterized by strong communication and education component (Greenwood, 2014).||Communities and groups of people who share the same concerns and demonstrate same interests. Interviews and observations are applicable.||Participants’ knowledge and the intentions to participate in change or avoid it.||The Norwegian government offers older skilled workers to continue working after the retirement age (Greenwood, 2014).||Greenwood (2014). The source contains definite and clear explanations of what practical also known as pragmatic action research is, its development, and the ways of use.|
|Participatory action research||A way to demonstrate the importance of collaborative participation of researcher and communities in order to develop new knowledge. The design includes a participatory model, the recognition of a form of knowledge, mobilization of communities, policy interventions, and analysis of stakeholders.||Communities who are ready to observe new suggestions and approaches and share their thoughts through interviews or questionnaires.||Thoughts and attitudes to a certain event or interventions shared by the direct participants.||In Asia, non-working education is offered to working children in order to gain insights on education and working processes (Pant, 2014).||Pant (2014). Clear definitions, history, and principles are given in this source. Process and methodology are explained.|
|Formative evaluation||The type of evaluation that can be developed during the delivery of a program and the evaluation of its effectiveness and appropriateness. It is focused on plans and designs (Mathison, 2005).||Experts, learners, researchers, and revisers share their opinions on a chosen program or policy||Opinions, attitudes, and personal knowledge are supported by the data taken from reports.||Intolubbe-Chmil, Spreen, & Swap (2012). The authors use formative evaluation of students’ experience of transformative learning as the way to improve their leadership skills.||Mathison (2005). The definition of the method is developed, the main names are mentioned, and the examples can be used to develop independent research.|
|Summative evaluation||A method to complete the discussion of a program. It is used to support a decision-making process and promote a report “on” the program but not “to” the program (Mathison, 2005).||Ordinary people and stakeholders that can be influenced by a program or policy under consideration||Attitudes, evaluations, opinions, and knowledge of different stakeholders are gathered through interviews and questionnaires.||Turner, Norwood, & Noe (2013). In this article, summative evaluation is the method with the help of which the information related to resource allocation is introduced and proves that change is possible and effective.||Mathison (2005). Brief and informative definitions are offered to support a research process.|
In the chart, a brief analysis of four action research techniques is given to explain what kind of material can be gathered and describe what outcomes and results may be expected after different methods of collection and analysis are used. Practical and participative action research types differ in their goals. Participative AR aims at creating the environment and the process in terms of which the context knowledge can be used to develop a new theory, program, or policy. Participatory AR aims at improving the capacity of researchers and changing social reality. Reflective practices are used in participatory AR, and descriptive data is preferable in practical AR. In both types, researchers have to work with the participants in order to gather the data and analyze it properly.
There are two appropriate methods of data analysis: a summative evaluation and a formative evaluation. In both types, a program or a process have to be analyzed in order to determine the possible value of learning and training that can be offered to the participants. A formative evaluation aims at judging the idea during the implementation of a program, and a summative evaluation is used to investigate the worth of the program after all activities are taken. In other words, the researchers who use a formative evaluation want to investigate the process, and the researchers who use a summative evaluation have to focus on the outcome.
Taking into consideration the similarities and differences of the offered methods, as well as their main characteristics, it is wrong to say that one idea is better than another idea. Each case is unique, and each method can be approved or disproved the same way.
Discussion Question Assignment
Carter is the author of a three-article dissertation about the improvement of practice that aims at developing remote adjunct instructions, considering satisfactory and gender issues, and recognizing the outcomes of the interventions. Each article chosen for the dissertation is a solid contribution to the development of the topic. One of the articles is based on action research. This method focuses on specific situations and the solutions that can be offered to particular locations (Carter, 2014).
The article discusses the self-regulated professional development with the help of which remote instructors may improve their skills and achieve positive results in cooperating with students. The data is gathered with the help of several methods: observations, focus groups, and artifacts. Action research is appropriate due to its connections with the academic environment and the possibility to promote cooperation between researchers and participants.
What are the best data analysis techniques to support action research?
Carr, W., & Kemmis, S. (2009). Educational action research: A critical approach. In S.E. Noffke & B. Somekh (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of educational action research (pp. 74–85). London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Carter, A.H. (2014). Communities of practice as professional development for remote adjunct instructors: Improving the quality of the online student experience. Web.
Chen, H. (Ed.). (2005). Practical program evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Grada, A.O., Laorie, C.N., Linehan, C., Boylan, G., & Connolly, L. (2015). Naming the parts: A case-study of a gender equality initiative with academic women. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 30(5), 358-378.
Greenwood, D. (2014). Pragmatic action research. In D. Coghlan, & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of action research (pp. 645–648). London, UK: SAGE Publications.
Intolubbe-Chmil, L., Spreen, C.A., & Swap, R.J. (2012). Transformative learning: Participant perspectives on international experiential education. Journal of Research in International Education, 11(2), 165-180.
Mathison, S. (Ed.). (2005). Encyclopedia of evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Pant, M. (2014). Participatory action research. In D. Coghlan, & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of action research (pp. 584–589). London, UK: SAGE Publications.
Swepson, P. (2014). Practitioner inquiry. In D. Coghlan, & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of action research (pp. 640–645). London, UK: SAGE Publications.
Turner, P.K., Norwood, K., & Noe, C. (2013). A woman with a plan: Recognizing competencies for ascent to administration in higher education. NASPA: Journal about Women in Higher Education, 6(1), 22-47.