The action research approach
Because of the variables which had to be considered, the investigative approach used to develop the prototypes was not a traditional research methodology but more akin to field research. Later with the evolution of contemporary educational research, it would be more appropriately termed as 'action research' as reported in Griffiths and Impey* (2000).
The action research approach
These research and development activities were carried out in relation to Nottinghamshire special schools - especially Westbrook, Aspley Wood and The Shepherd School - plus a number of adult training centres.
The action research stages
The action research approach used is best outlined in the sequential stages below.
- The ideas for specific activities were obtained from teachers or planned from observations of perceived needs.
- These were thought through in terms of the applicability to either the populations with physical or learning disability needs.
- The basic concept for the activity, game or sport was planned for on paper.
- The basic prototype equipment was then constructed.
- The prototype equipment was further developed in conjunction with a specific group of participants so the format of a teaching or game approach could be clearly established.
- An informal competition or 'have a go event' would then be conducted to introduce the new ‘activity item’ to the relevant groups of participants from schools or centres. The reactions of both the participants and respective staff were then evaluated along with our own field observations.
- The bulk of equipment, in sets of ten or more, were produced at local skills training centres and day centres for the disabled.
- An accompanying pamphlet containing the appropriate guidelines, rules and activity suggestions/directions was then developed to support the teachers and instructors.
The Sports Science degree
At this time - 1981 - the University also established its degree in Sports Science with the support of world-famous neurosurgeon, Sir Ludwig Guttman. Its modules in Sport and Disability meant that students were given the opportunity to engage in this action research process and helped in the field testing, as well as assisting in designing some prototypes. This required:
- formulating investigations
- community experience
- data gathering
- personal adjustment
- decision making
- the formal write up of projects/dissertations.
In the application stage some also volunteered to adopt responsibilities for the planning, conduct and organisation of complete competitive events.
*Griffiths, M. and Impey, G. Ed. Zone Hockey for Physically disabled children: The creation of a research-based game. In Better research and learning. Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University. Chp 10, p142-153.
Further information on Sports Science degrees at Nottingham Trent University.