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Participatory Action Research for Educational Leadership

Participatory Action Research for Educational Leadership
Using Data-Driven Decision Making to Improve Schools

July 2007 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Leadership Solutions

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Alana James has a new twitter feed titled AR4Everything, which covers action research and reports on interesting facts.

"Finally we have a data-driven text on participatory action research for educational leaders. Through thoughtful examples and guided instruction, this text makes the case that the complex issues of today and tomorrow require multifaceted, rigorous, and results-oriented processes best undertaken through partnerships between educators and the communities they serve."

Darlyne Bailey, Dean and Assistant to the President, University of Minnesota

"This book includes a very useful hands-on approach to developing a PAR project. It is written in a manner that is accessible to teachers, it is detailed enough to provide clear descriptions, and the exercises at the end of each chapter help readers to implement the new material."

—Elizabeth Grassi, Regis University

"In a clear manner, this text provides the tools necessary to conduct collaborative action research in order to create needed change in our classrooms and schools. Using this book, teachers, administrators, parents, and students can become active participants in the movement toward educational change."

Emma Fuentes, University of San Francisco

The participatory action research (PAR) process discussed in the text represents the next evolutionary stage for action research and practitioner research in education. Authors E. Alana James, Margaret T. Milenkiewicz, and Alan Bucknam provide a readable overview of the PAR process similar to professional learning communities in schools. This fresh approach to participatory action research fully integrates process with research methodology. The results of the original PAR study and continued work with educational leaders propose that this "And/Both" approach ultimately produces the effect that school leaders seek and appreciate.

Key Features

  • Guides the reader through the PAR steps with a graphically illustrated process: The book's design reaches out to visual learners with graphic elements while employing a research logic model that helps ensure rigorous research methodology.
  • Provides reflective questions preceding each section: The questions increase the reflective practices and routines of the reader as appropriate to the PAR process.
  • Presents real-world examples: Practitioner stories make the lessons real and alleviate the emotional unease that comes from tackling research practices for the first time.
  • Offers tasks for working both in teams and as individuals: These tools aid participatory teams in working toward consensus and strong research designs.

Intended Audience

This is an ideal core text for graduate courses such as Action Research for School Improvement, Research for Educational Practitioners, Practitioner Research, and Teacher as Researcher in departments of education. It can also be used as a supplemental text in other research methods courses and in data-driven decision-making courses.

Meet author Alan Bucknam!

Welcome to PAR for Educational Leaders  
Our Approach to PAR  
Our Readers  
How to Use This Book  
Final Notes  
1. The Participatory Action Research Model
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: PAR---A Tool for Change  
PAR as a Tool for Educational Leadership  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Research and Action in the PAR Process  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: Participatory Research as a Tool to Address Adaptive Change  
An Example of PAR Use in the Classroom  
Task 1.1: Beginning a Reflective Journal  
2. The Tenets of PAR: Ethics, Purpose, and Logic
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Ethics  
Ethical Elements  
Task 2.1: The Formation of an Ethical Plan for PAR Projects  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: The Power of Purpose  
Format for Purpose Statements  
Task 2.2: Multiple Journal Entries Define Purpose  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: Logic Models  
Task 2.3: Planning Your First Draft of Your Logic Model  
3. Starting to Research
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Asking Good Research Questions  
Task 3.1: PAR Practitioners Reflect On and Share Their Initials Ideas for Research Questions  
Surfacing Assumptions  
Task 3.2: Surfacing Assumptions  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Informal and Formal Reviews of Literature  
Task 3.3: The Mini "Lit Review"  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: A Brief Overview of the Basic Research Methods  
Qualitative Methods  
Quantitative Methods  
Reflective Practice  
Task 3.4: Reflective Journal Practice  
4. Qualitative Data Collection
How Is Qualitative Evidence Useful?  
What Makes Qualitative Evidence Difficult?  
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Qualitative Data Collection Methods  
Data Collected Directly in Words From People: Interviews and Focus Groups  
Data Collected Through a Process of Change: Reflective Data/Field Notes/Anecdotal Accounts  
Data Collected During the Event(s) Being Studied: Observations/Student Work/Logs  
Task 4.1: Collecting a Variety of Qualitative Data  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Maximum Success and Rigor  
Managing Time and Resources  
How to Make It More Rigorous  
Introduction to Mixed Methodology  
Task 4.2: Data-Planning Matrix  
5. Qualitative Analysis
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Stages in Analyzing Qualitative Evidence  
Graphic Organizers  
Rubrics and Multiple Observers  
Similarities and Differences  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Validity, Credibility, and Reliability in the Analysis of Qualitative Data  
Task 5.1: Practice Analysis of Data  
6. Quantitative Evidence
Data Found in Schools  
Standardized Tests  
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Questions Answered by Quantitative and Mixed Methods Evidence  
Observations and Time Studies  
Surveys or Questionnaires  
Descriptive Statistics  
Variance and Correlation  
Complex Questions  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Quantitative Data Collection  
Questionnaires or Surveys  
Time Series  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: Analysis and Statistical Information  
Descriptive Analysis  
Survey Analysis  
Percentages and Mean  
Standard Deviation  
The t-Test  
Reporting Results  
Task 6.1: Preliminary Quantitative Analysis  
7. Taking and Measuring Action
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: How to Know What Actions to Take  
Three Continuums of Action  
The Continuum of Actions From Emancipatory to Professional Development  
The Continuum From the Individual to the Organizational  
Examples of PAR to Foster School Improvement  
Teachers or Support Staff in a Classroom or Whole-School Setting  
Whole Schools or School Districts  
Reflective Question  
Section 2: Efforts at Change  
The Challenge of Inertia  
Defensive Behaviors  
Task 7.1: Analyzing Force Fields and Defensive Behaviors  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: Measurement  
Formative Evaluation  
Focus and Responsiveness  
Determining Variables With Which to Measure Short-Term Outcomes  
Measuring Outcome Steps  
8. Cycles of PAR: The Power of the Iterative Process
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Messy Cycles  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Iterative Growth  
Time Line and Group Process for Significant Success  
Task 8.1: Using the Forward Planner  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: Theoretical Understanding Bolsters Action and Visa Versa  
9. Final Analysis and Results
Reasoning and Writing  
Standards for the Final Analysis  
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: Validity  
My "Real" World--or Yours?  
Theory Building and Testing  
Reporting the Analysis Process to Others  
Task 9.1: Building a Preliminary Report on the Analysis Process for Others  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: Credible Interpretation  
Graphic Organizers  
Compelling Arguments  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: Reliability  
Reflective Questions  
Section 4: Passionate Conclusions  
Task 9.2: One Sentence and Three Words  
10. The Final Report
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: The Formal Report  
The Formal Academic Report  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: The Formal Presentation  
Prior to Beginning  
Openings and Closings  
Content and How to Present It  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: The Informal Individual Report  
Reflective Questions  
Section 4: The Community Report  
11. PAR for Educational Leadership
Reflective Questions  
Section 1: A Creative Tool in Environments of Chaos and Complexity  
Counteracting Educator Mobility  
Inclusion: Both/And Rather Than Either/Or  
The Need for Flexibility  
Prediction: The Study of Outliers  
Feedback Loops  
Reflective Questions  
Section 2: A Tool for Adaptive Leadership  
Creating a Holding Environment  
Avoiding Implementation Failure  
Reflective Questions  
Section 3: PAR and Educational Reform Efforts  
Professional Learning Communities and Communities of Practice  
What Is Required?  
The Development of an Inclusive Leadership Structure  
About the Authors
Key features
  • Clear process through both the PAR steps employing a research logic model throughout. This benefits the graduate student or educational leader by leading them to data driven outcomes that are valid, credible and reliable
  • Graphic elements guide the reader through the process and aid the visual learner in keeping track of the concepts behind the theory.
  • Reflective questions precede each section. This increases the reflective practices and routines of the reader as appropriate to the PAR process.
  • Tasks, written for both groups and individuals, aid participatory teams in working towards consensus and strong research designs
  • Practitioner stories make the lessons real and ease the emotional unease that come from tackling research practices the first time.

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