Reflections and Advice from the Field
Introduction (Stacey Caillier and Heather Lattimer)
What do you think of when you think of research? What are your experiences with research? When faced with these questions, many of us conjure up images of science labs with hypotheses to test, stacks of books and printed articles to read, and lonely hours hunched over a computer. Those of us with a humanities or social science background might describe research as a process of collecting and summarizing the ideas of others in order to build support for an argument or a recommendation. Those of us with a background in the physical sciences might describe a process of forming hypotheses, testing those hypotheses, and describing what is found in “objective” terms that require the researcher to remove him/herself from the equation. We might describe research as a process that concludes when the data or evidence has been collected and analyzed, the conclusions stated, and the implica- tions and next steps reported. Researchers’ responsibilities seemingly end here; it is the responsibility of others to implement researchers’ recommendations. In short, it is the work of practitioners, those who work in the contexts being studied, to take action and to effect change. It is not surprising, then, that for many of us educators, the concept of “action research” can at first seem like an oxymoron. Our experience has been that teachers often express excitement and relief upon learning what action research is—that it engages educators as researchers and scholars, that it is rooted in their daily won- derings and practical concerns...
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