Title

Action Research: A Bridge to Inform Practice

Presenter Information

M. Beth Merryman
Karen Goldrich Eskow

Start Time

24-10-2008 12:00 PM

End Time

24-10-2008 2:00 PM

Abstract

There is great interest in using research evidence to enhance practice (1). Action research involves a systematic, democratic and collaborative process to increase understanding in the active pursuit of problem solving (2). This approach has much in common with client-centered practice and is also relevant for those working to promote health and well being in various community settings. Occupational therapy researchers have identified the need for action research methods to assist in addressing the multiple complexities of community practice (3). Action research methods are relevant for interventions that affect individuals, families and populations (4). Action research using focus groups and a community development framework was used to increase understanding of factors that affect perceived family quality of life (5). This paper describes a graduate course and subsequent action research project that illustrates educational and research methods, process, and outcomes. The project included obtaining access to an at-risk elementary school, recruiting participants, conducting focus groups, and using survey data to assess and define a need. The need that emerged was the desire to increase family involvement in the school. Four graduate students were trained on focus group methods as well as conducting a needs assessment. Four focus groups were conducted, each with two student facilitators and one student providing child care as needed. The groups included parent members of the school PTA, parents who were not members of the school PTA, parents of students in the ESOL program, and parent members of the Executive Board of the PTA. Each group had between four and six members. Students generated eight guiding questions based on review of the literature and interviews with the school principal and teacher PTA liaison. Students assumed the role of leader or co-facilitator and audio-taped the groups. Incentives included snacks and free child care. Audiotapes were transcribed and reviewed individually and then collectively as a group in class to identify units of meaning which were then organized into categories and themes. The analysis further informed a final report that included proposed steps of action that was subsequently presented to school leadership. Study results and follow up will be shared.

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Oct 24th, 12:00 PM Oct 24th, 2:00 PM

Action Research: A Bridge to Inform Practice

There is great interest in using research evidence to enhance practice (1). Action research involves a systematic, democratic and collaborative process to increase understanding in the active pursuit of problem solving (2). This approach has much in common with client-centered practice and is also relevant for those working to promote health and well being in various community settings. Occupational therapy researchers have identified the need for action research methods to assist in addressing the multiple complexities of community practice (3). Action research methods are relevant for interventions that affect individuals, families and populations (4). Action research using focus groups and a community development framework was used to increase understanding of factors that affect perceived family quality of life (5). This paper describes a graduate course and subsequent action research project that illustrates educational and research methods, process, and outcomes. The project included obtaining access to an at-risk elementary school, recruiting participants, conducting focus groups, and using survey data to assess and define a need. The need that emerged was the desire to increase family involvement in the school. Four graduate students were trained on focus group methods as well as conducting a needs assessment. Four focus groups were conducted, each with two student facilitators and one student providing child care as needed. The groups included parent members of the school PTA, parents who were not members of the school PTA, parents of students in the ESOL program, and parent members of the Executive Board of the PTA. Each group had between four and six members. Students generated eight guiding questions based on review of the literature and interviews with the school principal and teacher PTA liaison. Students assumed the role of leader or co-facilitator and audio-taped the groups. Incentives included snacks and free child care. Audiotapes were transcribed and reviewed individually and then collectively as a group in class to identify units of meaning which were then organized into categories and themes. The analysis further informed a final report that included proposed steps of action that was subsequently presented to school leadership. Study results and follow up will be shared.