Facilitated by Linda Purrington

Framing the Research Questions in Action Research

I suggest that there are basically two types of questions in action research:

One of the challenges in action research is to frame good central and cycle questions. The purpose of this project is to share ideas, tools, and resources for framing good research questions.

This page provides an overview of each form of research question and the links take you to activities that I am organizing for our learning circle participants. - Linda Purrington

The Central Inquiry Question

The research issue generates the central question. “The research focus and question are about something in your situation that you feel you can investigate and do something about, in relation with others” (McNiff, 2013, p. 92). The central question is a conversion of a research issue/topic into a research question.

Example:

Research Issue: I need to find ways to encourage my leadership team to work more collaboratively. I believe that working more collaboratively would result in greater productivity, better outcomes, and increase the capacity of the team to address even more complex issues.

Central Question: What are some ways that I might encourage my leadership team to work more collaboratively?

Good central research questions are:

  • "Significant, interesting enough to practitioners to carry their interest throughout the project;
  • Manageable, within the scope of practitioners' influence and abilities;
  • Clearly stated and unambiguous;
  • Self-reflective, involving the researcher in the practice; and
  • Neutral, allowing for data that support or refute the possibilities presented" (James, Milenkiewicz, & Bucknam, 2008, p. 46).

Central Guiding Questions

The Cycle Research Questions

Cycle questions guide the focus and direction for the iterative cycle work of planning, acting, assessing, and reflecting. Cycle questions emerge after a review of the literature and learning what others have done and learned. Cycle questions reflect a specific direction/action and can be assessed.

"Once you have decided on an area of focus, narrowed its breadth, and reviewed the literature and other information related to your topic, it is time to develop a concrete plan for actually carrying out the action research study. Developing this research plan necessitates the conversion of your topic into research questions" (Mertler, 2012, p. 84).

One of the challenges in action research is to frame good central and cycle questions. The purpose of this project is to share ideas, tools, and resources for framing good research questions.

Cycle Guiding Questions


To participate in this activity please go to these pages and follow the directions:

  1. Central Guiding Questions
  2. Cycle Guiding Questions