Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Action research - using a wiki to collaborate and gather information

I do find the idea of action research the most intriguing and appealing of the different approaches to research I've studied so far. I know that other qualitative and quantitative approaches are important, but I cannot imagine going down those routes myself.

Shannon Burger and Mary Ann McFarland, from Southwest Middle School,Parkway School District in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, had very interesting comments on their approach to action research. As Burger and McFarland (2009) write, "Action research can be used for the analysis and reflection of everyday problems in the practitioners specific situation versus traditional research, which aims to formulate general statements that are broadly applicable." As a teacher librarian, I think action research is part of my daily life on an informal basis. I'm always trying to put together my thoughts on what works and what doesn't. The problem is that I don't often have - or take - the time to write down my observations and solidify or extend my thinking on them. So these in-the-moment observations can get lost in the hustle-bustle of daily life.

Burger and McFarland describe the way they used their wiki to collaborate on their action research. The wiki gave them a shared space to record their observations, gather linked resources, and comment on each other's work. As they note, by sharing information on the wiki, they were then able to use their time in face-to-face meetings much more effectively to problem solve and brainstorm.

I have used PBworks, the wiki that Burger and McFarland used, for several projects both for work and for SJSU classes. But I had not thought of these wikis quite so formally as a way to gather and share data on an action research. This is a very interesting suggestion to keep in mind.

Burger, S. and McFarland, M.A. (2009). "Action research and wikis: an effective collaboration." Library Media Connection. 28(2): 38-40. Retrieved from


  1. Let's do an action research project!! :-)
    Okay, I'm kind of kidding. But de Groot's class is inspiring me to want to do some research into what I care about at school. I'm glad that you also got something out of this article.

  2. One day, chickie! That would be very fun!! But seriously, let's try to set up time to look at our final project for deGroot together. I'm quite daunted by it. And I think we could help each other brainstorm through it.