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The Action Research Guidebook

A Four-Stage Process for Educators and School Teams
Second Edition
By: Richard D. Sagor

Best-selling author Richard Sagor’s updated edition provides steps for effectively implementing research and data. The book is organized around Sagor’s four-stage process and includes hands-on tools.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412981286
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2010
  • Page Count: 248
  • Publication date: November 19, 2010

Price: $45.95

Price: $45.95
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"Richard Sagor powerfully bridges the gap between research and practice. His conception of action research is clear, robust, and flexible. This book is both intelligent and accessible, and is fun to read and use."
—Deborah Court, Head of Curriculum Studies
School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

"This new edition is simply outstanding! The descriptions, metaphors, and modeling of an everyday approach to the inquiry cycle reflect Sagor's deep understanding of the current challenges educators face in integrating action research into their practices."
—Lauren Childs, School Quality Consultant for Teacher Leadership
Oakland Schools, Waterford, MI

Easy-to-use action research tools that work for today's schools

In this second edition of his best-selling volume The Action Research Guidebook,Richard Sagor provides updated tools and insights to guide the implementation of school-based research for student success. Ideal for teacher leaders and teacher teams, this practical guidebook features new examples, activities and leadership applications that reflect the recent growth of professional learning communities, wider acceptance of standards, and the need for more qualitative research. Sequentially organized to be used as you go, the book follows Sagor's four-stage process developed from his many years of experience training educators:

  1. Clarifying visions/targets
  2. Articulating theory
  3. Implementing action and collecting data
  4. Reflecting on data and planning informed action

Inside are numerous tables, charts, handouts, forms, and worksheets to demystify the action research process. This handbook will also be valuable to principals, counselors, and other educators wishing to apply the action research process to school improvement.

Key features

Each chapter provides concrete strategies for immediate use. Realizing the needs of the busy educator, Sagor has written this as a guide using a very clear 4 step process so that readers can get started on  action research projects after reading just a few chapters. Each chapter prepares the reader to take the next step:

  • Finding and refining your focus
  • Articulating and drawing a theory in action
  • Determining the research questions
  • Building and analyzing a data-collection plan
  • Turning findings into action plans
  • Reporting and sharing action research



Richard D. Sagor photo

Richard D. Sagor

Richard Sagor recently retired from his position as professor and director of the Educational Leadership Program at Lewis & Clark College. In 1997 he founded ISIE (pronounced “I see”), the Institute for the Study of Inquiry in Education, to work with schools and educational organizations on the use of action research and data-based school improvement while he was a professor of educational leadership at Washington State University (WSU).

Prior to his work at the university level, Sagor had 14 years of public school administrative experience, including service as an assistant superintendent, high school principal, instruction vice principal, disciplinary vice principal, and alternative school head teacher. He has taught the entire range of students, from the gifted to the learning disabled, in the areas of social studies, reading, and written composition.

Educated in the public schools of New York, Sagor received his BA from New York University and two MA degrees as well as a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Oregon.

Beyond his work as a teacher and administrator, Sagor has had extensive international consulting experience. He served as a site visitor for the United States Department of Education’s Secondary School Recognition Program and has worked with the Department of Defense’s overseas schools, numerous state departments of education, and over 200 separate school districts across North America. His consulting has focused primarily on leadership development, the use of data with standards-based school improvement, collaborative action research, teacher motivation, and teaching at-risk youth.

His articles on school reform and action research have received awards from the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Educational Press Association of America. Sagor’s books include The TQE Principal: A Transformed Leader; At-Risk Students: Reaching and Teaching Them; How To Conduct Collaborative Action Research; Local Control and Accountability: How to Get It, Keep It, and Improve School Performance; Guiding School Improvement With Action Research; Motivating Students and Teachers in an Era of Standards; and Collaborative Action Research for Professional Learning Communities.

Sagor can be contacted at the Institute for the Study of Inquiry in Education, 16420 SE McGillivray, Suite 103–239, Vancouver, WA 98683, or by e-mail at rdsagor@isie.org.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface to the 2nd Edition

Publisher's Acknowledgments

About the Author

1. Introduction to Action Research

Why Conduct Action Research?

The Complexity of Routine Instructional Decisions

Key Terms and Concepts

Universal Student Success

2. Finding a Focus

Zeroing in on Your Priorities

Using Reflective Writing to Find a Focus

Performance, Process, and Program Targets and Action Research by School Leaders

Using a Journal to Identify Action Research Foci

Reflective Interviews

Reflective Interviewing and the Problem of Isolation

Analytic Discourse

Team Reflection

3. Refining the Focus

Visualizing Success

Doing an Instructional Postmortem

Taking Stock of One's Recent Leadership Experience

Comparing Your Experience With the Experience of Others

Developing Criteria to Measure Changes With Priority Achievement Targets

Creating Performance Rating Scales

Rating Scales and Program Action Research

The Special Problem of Long-Range Goals

Assessing Rate of Growth

Determining Adequate Yearly Progress in Real Time

Producing Your Own Rate-of-Growth Charts

Ascertaining Rate of Growth in Leadership Programs

4. Articulating a Theory of Action

If Not Us, Who?

An Adequate Knowledge Base Already Exists

Going Beyond Proven Practices: Building a Theory of Action

Two Kinds of Variables

Creating Mileposts on the Route to Mastery

Inferring Independent Variables

Using the Priority Pie to Identify, Clarify, and Weigh Independent Variables

Using the Priority Pie With Descriptive Research

5. Drawing a Theory of Action

Why a Map?

Building a Graphic Reconstruction

Graphic Reconstructions for Quasi-Experimental Research

Graphic Reconstructions With Descriptive Research

Proofing a Theory of Action-Leadership Projects

6. Determining the Research Questions

Three Generic Action Research Questions

Developing Your Own Research Questions

Two-Step Walk-Through

Drafting the Questions

Surfacing Research Questions for Leadership Projects

7. Building a Data-Collection Plan

Data Collection and the Competing Demands for Your Time

What Qualifies as Teaching?

What Qualifies as Data?

Data in Descriptive Research

Data in Quasi-Experimental Research

Data Collection and Concerns About Precision

Fishing in a Sea of Data

Securing Research Assistants

Building a Triangulated Data-Collection Plan

Data-Collection Planning for Leadership Projects

Integrating Efficiencies Into Your Data-Collection Work

Using Technology to Compile and Assemble Action Research Data

Keeping a Researcher's Journal

8. Analyzing the Data

Trend Analysis

Organizing Data to Help Answer the Three Generic Questions

ACR Question 1: What Did We Do?

ACR Question 2: What Changes Occurred Regarding the Achievement Targets?

ACR Question 3: What Was the Relationship Between Actions Taken and Any Changes in Performance on the Targets?

Drawing Tentative Assertions

Using Member Checking to Add Credibility to the Tentative Assertions

Additional Tools for Qualitative Data Analysis

Qualitative Data Analysis Using Bins and a Matrix

Low-Tech Strategies for Bins and Matrixes

Using a Computer for Bins and Matrixes

9. Turning Findings Into Action Plans

Modifying Your Theory of Action

Data-Based Decision Making

Turning Your Findings Into Ed Specs

Solicit and Brainstorm Action Alternatives

Using Ed Specs to Evaluate Action Alternatives

Using Ed Specs to Evaluate Action Alternatives for Schoolwide Projects

Completing the Cycle: Revised Theory of Action 2

10. Reporting and Sharing Action Research

Common Issues

Formats for Reporting

Creating a Bank of Abstracts

Creating a District Archive

11. Conclusion: The School as a Learning Organization

The Two Keys: Coherence and Congruence

Putting the Pieces Together

Resource A: How to Use the Feedback Forms and Summary Reports

Resource B: Five Characteristics of a Quality Action Research Project

Resource C: Applications for Leadership Projects






Price: $45.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.