Closing the gap between theory and practice with action research

18 Nov 2016

There is a strong belief that both researchers and practitioners have an important role to play in changing and bettering human conditions. However, behind the scenes there are heated debates about how research findings can be turned into practical meaningful information that could be applied in everyday practice. The challenge for researchers is to organise their endeavours in such a way that they produce benefits to practitioners. Even more important is for practitioners and researchers to develop a cumulative body of knowledge for change. Research methods and techniques have become increasingly less useful for solving practical problems. One of the main reasons for this is the huge gap between theory and research. In short research and thus theory, lacks relevance and usefulness when faced with problems in the real world (practice). As is clear from the above the main aims of action research are not only to contribute to the development of theory or to address the practical problems experienced by people, but to develop the self-help competencies of people facing problems. Action research therefore has the potential to help close the gap between theory and practice by bringing both the researcher and the practitioner as equals into the research process. The question is why action research has thus far not had any remarkable success in this regard.