Action Research, Innovation and Change International Perspectives Across Disciplines. Oxon: Routledge. Edited by Thomas Stern, Andrew Townsend, Franz Rauch, and Angela Schuster. (2014)
Number of pages: 232
Cost: Paperback £26.99, Hardback £90
‘Action Research, Innovation and Change’ presents an edited volume of current writing on action research (AR) from the perspective of leading international researchers in the field. The book uses case studies, taken from the 2011 annual ‘Collaborative Action Research Network’ (CARN) conference, to tell the story of AR today. The editors have set out to broaden the definition of action research developed by Kurt Lewin (1946) through the inclusion of project reports and survey articles, from a diverse range of disciplines, settings and countries.
The chapters are themed into four sections and the individual studies (contained in the first three sections) are both engaging and easy to read. The book has a strong focus on AR as a catalyst for individual and group empowerment. Case studies are presented as practical examples of how practitioners and communities can collaborate with academic researchers in developing AR to “pave the way” for small and large-scale change.
The fourth section of the book “Epistemological Considerations” contains two chapters (13-14) that connect the book as a whole. By using these chapters to present the four principles of good AR, developed from Heron and Reason (2008) and citing Carr and Kremis’s (2005) appeal for AR to be more critical, and reflective of AR methodology. The reader can see how the editors have used this collection of current research to exemplify these ideals.
As a teacher educator working on AR with practitioners in the classroom, I found the book a useful adage to other AR texts. The honesty captured in Chapter 8, by an early career Israeli teacher, will provide an excellent example of small-scale research within the classroom, for my trainee teachers, next academic year. And my own practice has been challenged through the ideas expressed in Chapter 5, which discussed the importance of facilitating equal power relationships within participatory action research (PAR). The book allows the reader to reflect on this diverse range of projects, and develop a wider understanding of AR. I would recommend this book to researchers and practitioners who are looking for inspiration in AR methodology.
Sarah Davies, Senior Lecturer in Secondary Design and Technology, Nottingham Trent University