In the first podcast dedicated solely to Action Research, Adam and Joe do a deep dive into the lives, experiences, philosophies, and - of course - investigations of the most well respected action researchers in the field. Hear about their greatest successes and failures, and learn about what makes Action Research unique. If you are passionate about social change, engage in research, or are a budding scholar then this is the perfect podcast for you.
Intended mostly for those interested in research and social change, The Action Research Podcast aims to offer unique and valuable insights for the field through accessible and engaging conversations about the “what” “why” and “how” of Action Research.
The Action Research Team:
Adam Stieglitz, Co-host
Joe Levitan, Co-host
Shikha Diwakar, Production Manager
Vanessa Gold, Sound technician and voice-over specialist
Debrief: The Action Research Podcast
In this episode, our team of hosts and producers debrief Season 3 of the Action Research Podcast. (2:33) Co-producers Shikha and Cory introduce themselves as students in different stages of their PhD work while working on this podcast and (5:09) discuss lessons from the podcast influencing their research—especially when it comes to the productive messiness of the AR process. (9:47) Adam and Joe reflect on the evolution of the podcast since Season 1 and the various formats the team has been developing. From basic introductions to key concepts, to guest hosts sharing the nuanced details of diverse AR projects, to the struggles of developing “Voices from the Field” segments, the podcast is an emerging process much like AR. Adam looks forward to “creating more formats and pushing the limits of how an academic podcast can be considered empirical work.” Joe talks about the importance of students working on air and behind the scenes “so that our podcast stays relevant.” (16:10) Shikha reflects on how important discussions on the podcast, such as the importance of relationship building in AR, are mirroring developing conversations in the field. (17:09) The debrief turns to a discussion of the role of podcasts in literature reviews and ways that podcasts can be recognized as legitimate academic media. In a “publish or perish type environment,” Joe discusses a “hierarchy of knowledge,” the gold standard of double-blind peer-viewed articles and the potential role of podcasts in contributing to much needed procedural knowledge. [22:55] “Podcasts are an excellent space for thinking through method, and [they] add to the pantheon of what it means to engage in knowledge construction.” So for Season 4, building on Season 3’s theme of communication and action research, with an eye to increase engagement with podcast audiences, [29:27] Cory and Shikha suggest bringing on more students as guest hosts to engage with practitioners and scholars in the field, to dig in deeper to the messiness of AR cycles.
A shout out to Vanessa Gold who was missing in this conversation, but whose hard work and insights have been invaluable to the growth of the podcast. Vanessa also set the bar for being a great student-host in Season 2 Episode 3 “Student Voice and Action Research with Marc I. Brasof”.
More on Systemic Action Research with Dr. Danny Burns and Dr. Marina Apgar
In this episode, our team follows up with Dr. Danny Burns and Dr. Marina Apgar who first joined us in Episode 4 to discuss systemic action research. Danny Burns is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) a think tank affiliated with the University of Sussex in England. He has directed more than 25 action research projects and programmes. His work focuses on participatory learning for social change with a strong emphasis on systems thinking and complexity. Marina Apgar is Research Fellow in the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change cluster at IDS. She is a human ecologist with 20 years experience working in the research-practice divide with marginalized communities in international development supporting learning and change in complex systems.
[02:38] Marina reminds listeners about their large-scale system-changing project called Child Labour: Action-Research-Innovation in South and South-Eastern Asia [CLARISSA]. Started in 2016, CLARISSA has a team of more than 150 members. In this episode, [06:13] Joe asks our guests to update on developments and any changes in light of shifts in pandemic policies. Danny and Marina describe in further depth the first phase of their work with children in the worst forms of child labor. They share experience of the team working with stakeholders in the adult entertainment sector in Nepal and leather supply chain in Bangladesh (such as the employers of the children, business owners, parents and guardians). For Marina and Danny, action research can be an implementation modality that can help co-researchers respond to complex problems such as these. Our guests describe some of the ways the project went about understanding issues based on the lived experience of the children—starting with an extensive life story collection and analysis project. Through this process “the children actually themselves do a causal analysis of their experience, building a systemic picture of the issue of child labor. And then they decide what the intervention points are in the system.” [09:44] Danny describes children’s involvement in mapping the streets and identifying where the businesses were, through a process called A Day in the Life. This work provided an important “evidential base” because it allowed them to challenge a lot of assumptions which proved to be critical to the starting point of 13 action research groups. In fact, [17:45] this process evidenced “ how children actually reflecting on an issue from their own experience can create a different narrative.” [20:19] Reflecting on procedural knowledge, Marina discusses how the work in this first phase is also providing evidence for other important and central questions in this program: How is trust built? How does participation work, and how can it be sustained? [25:57] Danny offers some thoughts on safeguarding and relevance, and [29:29] Marina reflects on the evolution of expected outputs in the process of this research. [32:37] Danny picks up on these points and talks about policy work, in the context of generalizable vs transferable knowledge. [35:17] Marina is thankful that “even in the evaluation community, we're moving much more to transferability as being a core criteria. And action research, like a lot of qualitative and case-based kind of methods, is really well placed to do that.” Towards the end of the podcast, [37:19] Danny and Marina reflect on the need for a participatory management to go with any large-scale participatory process.
After some discussion among the podcast team, we were curious to follow up on some of the ethics approval process and finer details in some of the methods used in the Clarissa project. We look forward to continuing our discussion with Danny and Marina, and we encourage you to keep an eye on...
The What and Why of Research in Action Research with Alfredo Ortiz Aragon (Part 2)
Part 2 of this two part episode concludes the conversation between Adam, Joe and our guest Alfredo about the “what?” and “why?” of research in action research. Dr Alfredo Ortiz Aragón is an Action-Researcher and Associate Professor in the PhD Program at the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, and co-author of Action Research (Fifth Edition) with Ernie Stringer.
In the last episode, Part 1, the conversation turned toward the ways theories bridge research and practice. In this episode, Part 2, Adam, Joe and Alfredo pick up the conversation by reflecting on the place of writing and reading in their own projects. We jump back in here with Adam who’s reflecting on the audience of action research. Adam recently finished his dissertation and is thinking about his work outside of the context of PhD research. [03:03] Alfredo looks at how theorizing in some of his projects helps him appreciate the influence of storytelling and story-based knowledge outside of publishing research. [06:09] Joe situates the work of research and the role of theorizing in the contexts of procedural and declarative knowledge and begins making the case for the value of action research in generating procedural knowledge. [08:23] Alfredo agrees and, through reflecting on his experience editing journals and sharing more projects he’s worked on, see this orientation toward procedural knowledge as an area of growth for action research: “Honoring people's expert knowledge, but turning it into a form that other people can see the expertise in it.” At this point, [13:33] Adam questions the role of the literature review in action research. [16:12] Alfredo makes the familiar case that literature reviews can be useful to action research projects, but argues that literature, and theories, should be at the service of the problems in “the real world,” and not the other way around. [20:04] Joe backs this up with his experiences doing action research with teachers in Peru. But… when do practitioners have time to do lit reviews? [23:50] Perhaps the controversial part of this episode, Joe and Alfredo explore division of labor, roles, and the suggestion that academics can provide a “knowledge service,” where “we come in, and help to document more of local practitioner knowledge, community knowledge literally as a service.” Wrapping up, [30:14] Alfredo insists that action research does really challenge dominant notions of research: “Research is working with people on the ground, hearing their stories, creating avenues for that processing, finding ways to turn them into creative visual form, turning stories into evidence… spending time with people.”
If you are interested in Alfredo’s work here are a few citations and links:
Stringer, E. T., & Aragón, A. O. (2021). Action research (Fifth edition). Sage publications.
Community-engaged participatory action research (PAR): Rewriting the script for equitable healthcare https://www.partners4healthequity.com/resource-library/community-engaged-participatory-action-research-par-rewriting-script-equitable
**If you have your own questions about Action Research or want to share any feedback, contact us at ActionResearchPod@gmail.com.**
The What and Why of Research in Action Research with Alfredo Ortiz Aragon (Part 1)
In this episode, Adam and Joe speak again with Adam’s close friend, professor, and mentor, Dr Alfredo Ortiz Aragón, an Action-Researcher and Associate Professor in the PhD Program at the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, and co-author of Action Research (Fifth Edition) with Ernie Stringer.
This episode explores the “what?” and “why?” of research in action research. Adam, Joe and Alfredo all went into their PhDs already working as practitioners and the conversation steers first toward the specific impact of their PhDs on their practice. Adam [7:15] thinks about the process and impact of his literature review on his work and Alfredo [9:20] reflects on how his PhD process opened his eyes to new ways of thinking about practice. Listen to Alfredo elaborate on the PhD as a period of discovering “meaningful methodology” and “amazing theories” (e.g., soft systems theory) that would energize his work and speak directly to frustrations he was having with “linear ways of thinking” in the field.
The conversation turns toward the ways theories bridge research and practice. Joe [15:45] picks up on research’s ability to help practitioners “draw the curtains back” and help us see things more clearly. But it’s not “a one-way street,” since the practitioner-researcher contributes back to developing theories. Alfredo [18:15] offers some tough love by challenging doctoral students who might use theories uncritically to validate their work rather than engage with them dynamically as tools in tension with other theories in their projects. He gives us an example of how the dynamic tension between soft system theory and complexity theory enriched his own work: “Those two theories don't like each other, but I needed both of them to be able to explain how the things that I was doing were helping or not.” Here, Joe [21:05] echoes Alfredo’s argument by drawing insights from an article he wrote “The Danger of a Single Theory” on his work with youth in a student voice project.
To close Part 1 of this conversation, Adam [22:35] asks Alfredo if he is still working with theories from his dissertation. Alfredo uses his work in The Community Health and Wellbeing Project and The Breastfeeding Women Project to bring back into focus the role of stakeholders in action research: “Whether or not you're bringing in a formal theoretical framework or not, we are treating people's experiences as a source of knowledge and evidence, and trying to get them involved in doing so. That is only happening because I learned something about action research.”
We have more to say, so join us in our next episode “Part 2 with Alfredo” where we dig into more of the “what and why” of research in action research.
If you are interested in Joe’s article or Aldredo’s (with Ernie Stringer) book on Action Research, the citations are below:
Levitan, J. A. S. (2018). The danger of a single theory: Understanding students’ voices and social justice in the Peruvian Andes. Teachers College Record, 120(2). WorldCat.org.
Stringer, E. T., & Aragón, A. O. (2021). Action research (Fifth edition). Sage publications
**If you have your own questions
about Action Research or want to share any feedback, contact us at
Spring Break Update!
To our listeners! Here is a quick update on the podcast. The ArPod team have been busy with exciting projects running across globe. We can’t wait to share an update soon with upcoming exciting episodes. Stay tune!
Voices from the field- Café Orígenes (Part-3)
If you haven’t listened to episodes one and two of the series, find the links below!
We are excited to bring the third installment of this exciting mini-series that brings you “behind the scenes” of action research projects to demonstrate what action research looks like, in action. In this episode, Adam catches Joe up on what has been happening in Café Orígenes, and there are some exciting updates! Throughout the episode Adam and Joe dive deep into how issues of communication, democracy, and finances intersect and impact a project, with some tips for other action researchers out there from lessons learned. Tune-in to learn more!