The Evaluation Study of Action Research, or ESAR, aims to investigate the validity of claims that action research projects produce intended outcomes and have a transformational impact. The ESAR is a collaborative project coordinated by Dr. Eileen Piggot-Irvine at Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada and focuses on evaluating Action Research projects (both PAR and AR) for their impact. Other members of the international research team include Drs. Shankar Sankaran, Wendy Rowe, Lesley Ferkins, Deborah Zornes, Judith Kearney and Phil Cady. As a research team we have established clear protocols for ensuring that our own participatory practice in the ESAR study, and those we employ to engage with respondents, mirrors the highest collaborative, dialogic, responsive, inclusive and transformatory ideals for AR.
The main research question to be addressed by this research is: In what ways can AR be validated as a contributor to meaningful individual, community, organizational and societal change?
It is intended that approximately 200 AR projects from across the world will be compiled initially in a publically accessible project directory (we have 130 already).
Project selection criteria include that the project:
1 is clearly articulated as AR;
2. has a change emphasis arising out of a concern/need;
3. has espousals of improvement/capacity building that may be, in turn, linked to goals of personal, team, organization, or society improvement;
4. has the usual characteristics of collaboration, iterative phases of action and reflection;
5. resulted in publication or report dissemination post-2008; and
6. the project lead is still available, and other team members and stakeholders accessible.
A small number of those 200 projects will be sampled for evaluation during this two year research using a mixed-methods (collecting qualitative and quantitative data) case study approach that will include document analysis, survey, interview and focus group tools. The research is expected to contribute to both the theory and practice of action research and will result in peer-reviewed
publications as well as useful tools to evaluate action research projects.