Action Research

Where Theory Meets Practice

Individuals in the MA in Higher Education Leadership (MAHE) program undertake a year-long action research project where they design, lead, implement, and evaluate a changemaking initiative in higher education that addresses the issues most important to them. The basic premise of action research in the MAHE program is that individuals will be more effective in their work when they build a capacity to reflect upon and examine their own practice.

To complete an action research report, individuals must:

  • Identify a problem, preferably in their own organization, department, or place of work;
  • Decide upon a research question;
  • Review relevant research and theories to inform their work;
  • Design and conduct research; 
  • Write up a paper based on their findings and the process as a whole; and
  • Present their work at the annual MAHE Action Research Symposium

What is Action Research?

Action research is a “form of inquiry that enables practitioners in every job and walk of life to investigate and evaluate their work” (McNiff & Whitehead, 2011, p. 7). MAHE students begin the action research process by identifying the issues about which they are most passionate. Next, they determine what needs to be improved. Finally, they implement and evaluate the actions designed to effect change. Thus, MAHE students apply the knowledge they have acquired through the program towards transforming their own work for educational and societal change. We invite you to learn more about action research by exploring USD's Digital Library, which houses the MAHE published projects. 

McNiff, J., & Whitehead, J. (2011). All You Need to Know About Action Research. SAGE Publications Ltd.