In both cases, if the Lewinian action/reflection spiral is thoughtfully and
systematically followed, preferably in a group context, then issues and understandings on
the one hand, and the practices themselves, on the other, will develop and evolve.
3. Participatory action research is collaborative:
those responsible for action are involved in improving it. The collaborating group is
widened from those most directly involved to directly involve as many as possible of those
affected by the practices concerned.
4. Participatory action research establishes self-critical
communities of people participating and collaborating in the research processes of
planning, acting, observing and reflecting. it aims to build communities of people
committed to enlightening themselves about the relationship between circumstance,
action and consequence, and to emancipating themselves from the
institutional and personal constraints which limit their power to live by their
legitimate, and freely chosen social values.
5. Participatory action research is a
systematic learning process in which people act deliberately through remaining open to
surprise and responsive to opportunities. It is a process of using critical
intelligence to inform action, and developing it so that social action becomes praxis
(critically informed, committed action).
6. Participatory action research involves people
in theorising about their practices. This involves them in being inquisitive
about and coming to understand the relationship between circumstances, action and
consequences in their own lives. The theories that participatory action research develops
may be expressed initially in the form of rationales for practice. These initial
rationales are then subjected to critical scrutiny through the participatory action
7. Participatory action research requires that
people put their practices, ideas and assumptions about institutions to the test
by gathering compelling evidence for substantiation.
8. Participatory action research involves not only keeping
records which describe what is happening as accurately as possible but also collecting
and analysing the groups judgements, reactions and impressions about what is going on.
9. Participatory action research involves
participants in objectifying their own experiences. This can be done
by keeping a personal journal in which participants record their progress and their
reflections about two parallel sets of learnings: (a) about the practices themselves (how
the individual and collective practices are developing) and (b) about the process of
studying the practices (how the action research project is going).
10. Participatory action research is a political
process because it involves people in making changes that will affect others. For this
reason it sometimes creates resistance to change, both in the participants themselves and
11. Participatory action research involves
making critical analyses of the institutionally structured situations (projects,
programmes, systems) in which people work. The resistance to change felt by a researcher
is due to conflicts between the proposed new practices and the accepted practices (eg
concerning communication, decision-making and educational work) of the institution. This
critical analysis will help the participatory action researcher to act politically by (a)
involving others collaboratively in the research process and inviting them to explore
their practices, and (b) by working in the wider institutional context towards more
rational understandings, more just processes of decision-making, and more fulfilling forms
of work for all involved.
12. Participatory action research starts
small by working on minor changes which individuals can manage and control, and
working towards more extensive patterns of change. These might include critiques of ideas
of institutions which might lead to ideas for the general reforms of projects, programmes
or system-wide policies and practices.
Participants should be able to present evidence on how they articulated the thematic
concern which holds their group together, and on how they established
authentically shared agreements in the group.
13. Participatory action research starts with
small cycles of planning, acting, observing and reflecting which can help to define
issues, ideas and assumptions more clearly so that those involved can define more powerful
questions for themselves as their work progresses.
14. Participatory action research starts with
small groups of collaborators but widens the community of participating action
researchers so that it gradually includes more and more of those involved and affected by
the practices in question.
15. Participatory action research allows and
requires participants to build records of their improvements:
Source and Further Information
These participatory action research tenets are published on page 79 of Everyday
Evaluation on the Run, Yoland Wadsworth, (2nd Edition), Allen and
Unwin, Australia, 1997
For a fuller description and elaboration of Robin McTaggarts approach to Participatory
Action Research readers are advised to consult The Action Research Planner,
Stephen Kemmis and Robin McTaggart (Eds), 3rd Edition, Deakin University,
Victoria, Australia, 1988.
Robin McTaggart, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria 3217, Australia,
Fax (61) 52 442 777.