Action Research differs from traditional research in two important way


  1. It is not an add-on activity. It is embedded in the regular ongoing work of the class.
  2. It makes the complete cycle from formulating relevant questions to making changes in the practice of teaching.


Traditional Research

Action Research


To draw conclusions. Focus is on advancing knowledge in the field. Insights may be generalized to other settings.

To make decisions. Focus is on the improvement of educational practice. Limited generalizability.


Theory: Hypotheses/research questions derive from more general theoretical propositions.

Practice: Research questions derive from practice. Theory plays secondary role.

Data Analysis

Rigorous statistical analysis.

Focus on practical, not statistical significance.


Random or representative sample.

Students with whom they work.

Adapted from: Mc Millan, J. H. & Wergin. J. F. (1998). "Understanding and Evaluating Educational Research."