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Adult Education and Participation through Action Research

Updated on October 13, 2015
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Rodric has a Master in adult education. He has over ten years of facilitation and teaching experience.

Action research is just what it purports, research in action. Postulates arise and hypothesis form about a known situation that needs to change in the environment for the better.

Reflection on Action Research Project at The University of Phoenix

One of the most frustrating parts of the action research project is the process of building the project itself. First, there must come a logical need for the research project. Action research suggests a change in behavior or process for a system or procedure. If a problem exists, such as the lack of participation of a group of students or high literacy weakness in a group, the project is to research the possible causes of the problem and determine the best strategy to execute a solution.

In the programs offered at the University of Phoenix, students receive instruction to use virtual tools to help with mock survey information for statistical purposes for research projects; because, unless students work on research projects from the very beginning of the program so that they can have time to implement the program change suggestions and interpret data from instruments used during implementation(surveys), it is virtually impossible to have original data to use in the project. The time that an action research project requires for completion varies from topic to topic.

What I Gleaned

I completed my action research project about a subject with which I am intimately familiar within an environment in which I am immensely comfortable. Familiarity with the participants and their problems made it easier to formulate a plan of action to counter the problem, which was a lack of participation within the students.

As with a grade school teacher attempting to form a plan to correct dysfunctional areas in his or her classroom by completing a project, I attempted to correct the problem of low participation within my classroom. What I have gleaned from the process is that there always seems to be more to do after the research is over. Many strategies exist that can help increase participation. The literary review alone on adult participation has a very extensive library of research covering all opinions. Choosing which data to include became a troublesome process.

What I Would Do Differently

Reviewing the project and determining what I would change about my experience, I have determined that I would start earlier to gather a collection of literature to support my observations.

I could find no specific results that related to my unique teaching problem, though much research about adult participation exists. I could find no information about the participation of adults in religious settings that provided an idea of how the research would trend.

I speculated based on current data about adult behavior to determine what I expected to occur in the classroom when implementing my action research project. I do not believe it was necessary to find a topic that matched my experience exactly, but given more time, I do believe I would have found some research that included some gainful information of adult males being instructed in religious dogma.

I also would have used many more in the sample population for the surveys. The more information gathered from participants, the better idea of what change(s) would work for a particular class of diverse adults.

Recommendations To Other Aspiring Graduate Students

An important concept is preparation. In all things, be prepared; so that when the time comes, fear and confusion are diminished if they exist at all. I recommend preparing early and constantly.

A rushed action research project is not one that has value. Reading through the action research projects of classmates and team members brought disappointment and grief. Many of the projects lacked dimension and creativity. Many were boring.

The action research project is not alone about creating a plan of action, but convincing interested parties that the action plan is one of necessity. Each researcher should know enough about the problem to relate it to the reader to build interest--buy-in, in addition to providing exceptional documentation.

What I Wish I Had During the Process

More time to complete the action research project would have helped undoubtedly! I had a late start with the action research project because it was necessary to change the topic in the very class that I had to submit the first four chapters of the project.

The stress of having to find all new sources and research materials provided a constant threat to the quality of the project. Having the time to turn the resources to produce the project into information worth reading proved to be a task of constant revision.

Knowing ahead of time what I wanted to research would have increased the quality of my project, of course, even though I think my luck won out because I was so familiar with the subject and participants in the process.

New Things I Learned

Because my action research project was not a typical one found in a database, there was no reference on how to go about introducing the matter so that it appeared to be academically viable. The action research process was to increase participation in a class of adults, though the context of the project was within a religious setting. One class member did not read the project because he thought he would be biased about the research because the participants were from a religious setting. The research did not reflect a religious tint, save introducing a reader who potentially is unfamiliar with the research group’s background by providing some pertinent social and historical data.

What I learned is to tell the difference between providing information and persuading the audience or reader to a certain perspective. I am confident that I can write about a group without inserting my opinion outside of the research.


Challenges I Faced

The biggest challenges as mention previously all centered around the time to complete the project. The action research project continued to go along and was not completed before my last class.

I had terrible ethical reservations about using the mock data from the survey generator offered by The University of Phoenix to all students. I found the process of using that generator more laborious than actually collecting the data from actual people and incorporating it in to my chapter five of the project.

Because the data was limited and virtually generated, it lacked substance. This followed into my last chapter, which seemed hollow in comparison to the rest of the action research project. I had to make a conscious decision to use the mock data to obtain a grade.


Action research is just what it purports, research in action. Postulates arise and hypothesis form about a known situation that needs to change in the environment for the better. Descriptions follow and plans of implementation organized to put into action to see if the plan will bring about the speculated goals and expected outcome. This type of research does not set out to discover something new to report, but to take something old and find a way to make that old thing or system work more efficiently.

If teaching is the psychological massaging of another person’s brain then facilitation is the supervision of someone massaging his or her own brain!


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