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Analyzing and Prioritizing Complex Problems for Practical Action Research (Working Paper)
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Regis University

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Practical action research is conducted to improve practice and resolve problems of practice. This involves working within complex scenarios that can be difficult to understand. Complexity can confound otherwise well designed research, creating misunderstanding and misinterpretation within the study itself, and indistinct communication about the study. The effects of complexity can be mitigated through systematic pre-study analysis that clarifies the problem, and provides a transparent decision-trail that is examinable by other researchers and stakeholders. In this article, we present a process for conducting such analysis. The presented method provides a systematic and transparent process for analyzing problems that: a) redounds to a contextually-sensitive, high-resolution articulation of the problem; and b) prioritizes deconstructed problem elements for follow-on research. This method is presented for use as a pre-study task to enhance the effectiveness of practical action research initiatives and transferability of findings.