Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Action Research and vulnerable populations

This week I have asked action researcher, Dr. Christy Borders, to introduce an action research study she and Dr. Suzanne Ehrlich are working on together. Dr. Borders is an Assistant Professor in Special Education (Deaf/Hard of Hearing) at Illinois State University. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post a comment here. If you have ideas for other postings on education an action research, please email me at dusty.embury@eku.edu.

Action research can be such an outstanding method for looking into topics with a respectful eye.  Take for instance, “vulnerable” populations.  As populations grow more and more vulnerable, the use of action research makes sense in so many ways.  It offers those who have not previously been given a voice to address their own needs and concerns.  There have been several projects that address the needs of vulnerable populations in the last several years.  I am working with Dr. Ehrlich to give deaf students a chance to express their perspective on the educational services they receive and how they work (or don’t work) together.  There are many different individuals who work with this particular population of students and while the “professionals” may think that we are meeting the students’ needs in the best possible way, who would better inform that than the students themselves?  One catch…one of the primary deficits for children who are deaf or hard of hearing is language.  Therefore, we must provide them a voice in a non-linguistic mode – action research allows us a wonderful tool in Photo Voice.  The students can take pictures to allow their opinions to be “heard”.  As we are still in the planning stages of this study (working across several state lines), we look forward to what this tool can do for this population of students.  More updates to come as the study unfolds itself in its beautiful cycle!

1 comment:

  1. I am a doctoral social work faculty member at an online university. We required our learners to conduct AR dissertation studies. A problem that we are encountering is the issue of stakeholder vulnerability and how we can minimize it through research design. We are also dealing with a traditional IRB that tends to shy away from "sensitive topics". This is making the process difficult for learners and faculty. Do you have any suggestions or thoughts as to how we can move forward in an effective manner?

    How have you addressed ethical issues with respect to vulnerable stakeholders and sensitive topics?