Action research and evaluation on line

Session 14: Where now?



This is Session 14 of areol, action research and evaluation on line, a 14-week public course offered as a public service by Southern Cross University and the Southern Cross Institute of Action Research (SCIAR). which some useful references for further reading and thinking are given, and we say our farewells


What are the opportunities you have to improve your practice through critical reflection guided by data?


In this session

This brings areol to a close, except for a final evaluation for those doing the email version.  Where now?


Perhaps there are some formal courses you could enrol in.  Check with the university near you.  The sorts of faculties which are most likely to offer such courses are: education, agriculture, business, nursing, and perhaps those associated with community work.

Increasingly, it's becoming possible to do higher degrees using action research. This is worth checking, too.  You might start with a look at Ian Hughes' "Action Research on Web" at
(the final "/" is necessary)


Investigate some of the other varieties of action research.  Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages.  Each pays most attention to a slightly different set of factors.  I think there is benefit in being familiar with several approaches.  Then make up your own mind about what suits you and the situations you work in.

There are a variety of action-research-like processes in use in agricultural extension and rural development.

Chamala, S.  and Mortiss, P.D.  (1990) Working together for landcare: group management skills and strategies.  Brisbane: Australian Academic Press.

Anything by Robert Chambers is likely to be relevant, either his earlier work on Rapid Rural Appraisal or the later "Farmer first" approach:

Chambers, R.  (1981) Rapid rural appraisal: rationale and repertoire.  Public Administration and Development, 1, 95-106.

Chambers, R., Pacey, A., and Thrupp, L.A., eds.  (1989) Farmer first: farmer innovation and agricultural research.  London. Intermediate Technology Publications.

Chris Argyris is worth a special mention.  Any of his recent work is relevant.  The book which best captures the details of his methodology is this one:

Argyris, C., Putnam, R.  and Smith, D.McL.  (1985) Action science: concepts, methods and skills for research and intervention. San Francisco, Ca.: Jossey-Bass.

His more recent book with Don Schon integrates a lot of earlier material:

Argyris, C., and Schon, D.A.  (1996) Organisational learning II: Theory, method and practice.  Reading: Addison-Wesley.

And he has a couple of very recent books published:

Argyris, C. (1999) On organizational learning, second edition.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Argyris, C. (2000) Flawed advice and the management trap: how managers can know when they're getting good advice and when they're not. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

 Recently, Viviane Robinson has used, and reported on, a variation of action science which in some respects is simpler and easier to understand, and beautifully described:

Robinson, V.  (1993) Problem-based methodology: research for the improvement of practice.  Oxford: Pergamon Press.

There are other related approaches.  A good starting point is Peter Reason's collection of papers:

Reason, P., ed.  (1988) Human inquiry in action: developments in new paradigm research.  Newbury Park: Sage.

And of course there are many more.  Explore your local library.  You may find you can access it from your home computer.

Check Educational action research, a Triangle journal.  As its name implies, the focus in educational research.  For a journal with more of an emphasis on corporate and community work check out Concepts and Transformations, a Benjamin journal.

A journal with a "systems" orientation is Systemic Practice and Action Research (SPAR), details at

There is also one paper (by Robert Flood) from the first volume available on line at URL:


Electronic resources

From time to time I've mentioned files on the areol archive.  There are other files there that I haven't mentioned.  Most of them are associated with action research.  If you haven't already browsed through them, you might consider doing so.  You'll find a brief summary of the archive contents at    and

Areol and its associated resources are available as text files to give the greatest accessibility for those with slow modems or noisy connections.

This is part of a larger action research site which is slowly being extended. The front page to it is at

There is now a list of recent action research books (updated fairly regularly) on the Southern Cross University action research site. You'll find it at:

Web versions of a range of relevant resources are found at the following URLs.  The first of them, at Southern Cross University, gives access to several of the others:

The Southern Cross University action research web site

CARN, the Collaborative Action Research Network

PARNET, some action research resources at Cornell University

CARE, an educational action research network at the University of East Anglia

Judy Norris' qualitative research resources at the Ontario Institute

A collection of action research resources at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado

Action research material at Queens University

Ian Hughes' AROW ("Action research on web") course at Sydney       (the final "/" is necessary)


(Let me know your own favourites, and I'll add them to this list.)


Mailing lists

Many of you may already subscribe to arlist-l, the action research mailing list.  Others of you may consider doing so.  Other lists which deal with action research include partalk-l, and xtar.

To subscribe to these send the message

       subscribe <listname> <yourfirstname> <yourlastname>
 e.g.  subscribe ARLIST-L Betty Rubble

to the following addresses

  To subscribe to aelaction don't include your name:   aelaction

There are also various lists on evaluation.  Some which may carry information on qualitative evaluation include:




I've already mentioned the bibliography of recent action research books.  For completeness I've listed it again below, with a number of bibliographies on the archive.  Here are some files which are either bibliographies or contain useful reference lists, with brief descriptions.

A bibliography on action learning, compiled by Shankar Sankaran    or
An annotated bibliography on action research, including also some references on other qualitative research, and some evaluation    or
A partly-annotated bibliography of recent books on action research and related topics    or
A bibliography on meta-evaluation, arranged by category, compiled by Patricia Rogers    or
A list of books, compiled by Marcia Conner, recommended by members of the trdev-l (training and development) list as their favourite books    or

With the resurgence of interest in action research, new books appear regularly.  If you wish to be up to date it may be worth exploring the "alert" services of some of the on line bookstores.


Apart from that, you might even consider subscribing to the next areol program.  The email version is offered twice a year.  (It offers some advantages even if you prefer to access the sessions on the web.) Each lasting fourteen weeks, they begin in late February and mid to late July.


Let's practice action research on areol.  What ideas do you have for improving this session? What didn't you understand? What examples and resources can you provide from your own experience? What else? If you are subscribed to the email version, send your comments to the discussion list. Otherwise, send them to Bob Dick


It's been pleasant travelling with you.  Bon voyage as you continue your action research travels -- Bob




Copyright © Bob Dick 2002.  May be copied provided it is not included in material sold at a profit, and this and the following notice are shown.

This document may be cited as follows:

Dick, B.  (2002) Where now? Session 14 of Areol - action research and evaluation on line.  URL





Maintained by Bob Dick; this version 11.04w; last revised 20020712

A text version of this file is available at