A Tale of Three Discourses: Doing Action Research in a Research Methods Class

Stephen R. Couch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article tells the tale of a collaborative research project between a graduate research methods course in action research, and an urban community grassroots environmental group. In order to give the students the opportunity to do part of an action research project, the instructor (the author) approached the leaders of the grassroots group and asked if they would like the class to undertake research that would be of interest to them. The grassroots group is concerned that toxic releases from nearby facilities are causing detrimental health effects to area residents, and asked that the class gather and analyze health data that would speak to their concerns. The results of the research generated media attention and angered a congressional representative, who attempted to discredit the research and to get the university to disavow it. The results of this saga are used to illustrate what happens when the boundaries between the discourses of science, politics, and education become porous, and how interpretations of scientific research are shaped by the discourses in which they are used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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