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Volume 17, Number 5
September/October 2001

Solving Problems with ‘Action Research’

A conversation with Pedro Noguera


While teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, Pedro Noguera led The Diversity Project at nearby Berkeley High School, an initiative designed to address the disparity in achievement between white students and students of color and to investigate the causes of racial separation in the school. Using an action research approach, he collaborated with administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other community members to produce findings that Berkeley school officials now use to address inequities. This approach brings research design and implementation directly into schools to tackle what on-site practitioners see as important. HEL assistant editor Michael Sadowski recently spoke with Noguera, now Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, about how action research can help schools.

Can you start by giving us a working definition of action research?

I think of action research as research that makes itself directly relevant to practice and policy. That is its goal, to influence either or both of those. Therefore, it needs to be intelligible. It needs to be useful. It needs to be collaborative, whenever possible. And it needs to be driven by the concerns of those who are doing the work, as opposed to by the concerns of the researcher.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.