Let's Talk

Critical Participatory Action Research and Improvement Science-Guided Research Comparing Our Approaches to Improve Education


  • Joy Howard Western Carolina University https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1850-1455
  • Kimberly Derk University of Southern Indiana
  • Tori Colson University of Southern Indiana




Critical participatory action research, Improvement Science, Educational Research


The purpose of this paper is to identify key characteristics and forms that both research approaches use within the applied field of education. In this paper, we ask—how are CPAR and IS-GR similar and different? And, can tools or propositions from each be used in tandem within a research project? We invite readers to consider useful frameworks created to address problems of practice. Drawing strength from our diverse backgrounds (fields of study and professional roles), we aim to identify clear overlaps and divergent perspectives between the two approaches to aid scholarly practitioners in making informed decisions about the research frameworks they choose to take up to address pressing problems of practice in education.

Author Biographies

Joy Howard, Western Carolina University

Associate Professor
Human Services
Western Carolina University

Kimberly Derk, University of Southern Indiana

Adjunct Instructor
University of Southern Indiana
Teacher Education Department

Tori Colson , University of Southern Indiana

Associate Professor

Assistant Dean
Pott College of Science Engineering, and Education

University of Southern Indiana


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Additional Files


2023-02-27 — Updated on 2023-04-26

How to Cite

Howard, J., Derk, K., & Colson , T. (2023). Let’s Talk: Critical Participatory Action Research and Improvement Science-Guided Research Comparing Our Approaches to Improve Education. Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 8(1), 9–17. https://doi.org/10.5195/ie.2023.285



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