Action Research

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Active research is a more intensive form of service learning. This approach entails students designing and implementing a project to help a community organization. The project would also incorporate the concepts and information which was taught in class. This method allows students to be critical data collectors and data analyzers.

Example: A student volunteers at a local unemployment office to discover the impact of employment policies, such as a change in the minimum wage, on unemployment. The student would collect data on the number of new unemployment benefits applications filed before and after different policy changes. By running statistical tests, the student could try to find a relationship between certain policies and changes in the number of people who apply for unemployment benefits.

How to implement

1. Students should be assigned in groups of three or four students to a specific community organization which is appropriate in the context of the class (e.g A labor economics course may assign groups of students to different unemployment offices/agencies in the area).

2. Instructor can provide one hypothesis which each group should prove or could let each group choose its own hypothesis to prove.

3. The hypothesis and project which each student group plans to implement should be reviewed by the instructor before its implementation.

4. Once each project is approved, students should dedicate at least 25 hours to the project.

5. After students have completed their projects, each student group at the end of the course should present their findings to the rest of the class.

6. The active research portion of a class typically accounts for up to half of the students' grade.