The Middle Ground in Action Research: Integrating Practical and Critical Inquiry

Meghan McGlinn Manfra


Advocates of action research propose formalizing teacher inquiry to empower teachers to leverage their “insider” knowledge to change classroom practice. Currently there is disagreement between theorists who promote action research as practical or critical inquiry. This article defines the characteristics and history of action research in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. This review provides evidence of the theoretical divide between practical and critical action research, promoting the exploration of a middle ground. By encouraging a dialogue between proponents of both forms of action research, educators will gain new insights about teacher practice and the factors that promote or hinder critical teacher reflection.


Action Research; Critical Theory; Professional Development

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