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Action Research Guide: Action Research Project

Topic selection

Selecting a topic for your Action Research project will be one of the most difficult parts of the process. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a topic that is interesting to you and is related to your school or teaching
  • Brainstorm a list of things that you wonder about that are related to your school, teaching, or education
  • Browse current issues of education journals and see what topics are in the news
  • Discuss ideas with classmates or professors

Narrowing down your topic

Once you have a general topic in mind you will probably have to narrow it down to something manageable. For example - I want to choose "active learning" as my topic. This is too broad and there are many things related to active learning I can focus on. I will need to narrow down active learning to something more manageable. 

Tips for narrowing down your topic:

  • Once you have a general topic (ex.- active learning) start searching for articles related to this topic and skimming abstracts of the articles. Find out what people are researching related to your broad topic and keep a list. 
  • Look up the topic in the index in your course textbook or any education textbook to find subtopics
  • Once you have done some cursory reading on the topic, brainstorm based on what you have learned. Think about how it can be connected to your teaching or school.
  • Remember, even after you find a topic that is appropriate for the project you may change your mind based on researching further. 

Searching on your topic

Congratulations! You found a topic that is appropriate for the project. Now it's time to start researching for your literature review. 

Tips when researching for the literature review:

  • Break your topic into chunks. You probably won't find an article that discusses all aspects of your topic.
  • Use the list of citations in articles to find other articles to read
  • If you find an author who wrote one article related to your topic, there is a good chance they wrote others as well. Try searching to see what else the author has written.
  • If you find a journal that has an article related to your topic or find a journal with a title related to your topic try searching in that journal for more articles. 
  • Always be on the lookout for new keywords to use when searching the databases. Don't get stuck using the same ones over and over. Look to see what words other people are using to discuss the topic.