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College of Professional and Global Education · School of Information

Applied Research Methods - Action Research
INFO 285

  • Fall 2023
  • Sections 11, 13
  • 3 Unit(s)
  • 08/21/2023 to 12/06/2023
  • Modified 06/19/2023

Canvas Information

This course will be available on Canvas beginning August 21st, 6 am PT.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Contact Information

Dr. Renée Jefferson
Office Hours: Email & by Appointment.

Course Description and Requisites

Research methods covering fundamental principles, processes, values, and roles of research for professional application in information organizations. Students will become critical consumers of research products and learn the basic skills of planning, designing, executing, and reporting research as well as evaluating and applying published research findings. Emphasis will concentrate on developing, planning, and producing a quality research proposal


INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204.

Classroom Protocols


Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Program Information

Course Workload

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group; contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Goals

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes) Supported

INFO 285 supports the following core competencies:

  1. L Demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the ability to design a research project, and the ability to evaluate and synthesize research literature.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the difference between primary and secondary research.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles and processes of conducting research.
  3. Articulate the research method(s) covered in the course, appropriately apply them, and understand their strengths and liabilities.
  4. Understand appropriate data collection/analysis tools, and ethical concerns related to research.

Course Materials


Required Textbooks:

  • American Psychological Association (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association. Available through Amazon: 1433832178.

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Connaway, L. & Powell, R. (2010). Basic research methods for librarians 5th edition. Libraries Unlimited. Available as free eBook through King Library
  • Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A., & Liao, T. (2004) The SAGE encyclopedia of social science research methods. SAGE. Available as free eBook through King Library

Course Requirements and Assignments

The following table includes the course assignments, points, and due dates.  Due dates may change to accommodate class needs. Sufficient notice will be provided for any change in due dates. 



Due Dates

Introduction (Part 1 & Part 2)


8/27 & 9/3

Action Research Plan



Introduction Draft & APA Format



Annotated Bibliography Draft



CITI Program Certificate



Method Draft



Action Research Study Proposal






The major course project is the completion of an Action Research Study Proposal.  Students are expected to (1) develop a research question or objective, (2) write an introduction, (3) create an annotated bibliography, (4) design a research methodology for collecting data, and (5) create a reference list.  The proposal supports Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, and 4; and contributes 30% toward the final course grade.

Students are expected to complete assignments that are designed to help them create the required sections of the Action Research Proposal.  The exercises support Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, and 4 and contribute 65% toward the final course grade. 

IRB Training Requirement: Students will complete the University of Miami's online workshop (part of its collaborative institutional training initiative), titled "Social and Behavioral Research - Basic/Refresher". Completion of this online workshop is required by all San José State University faculty and students intending to do research with living human subjects. The course can be located at Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) - The training supports Learning Outcomes 2 and 4 and is completed during one of the Action Research Exercises.

Students are expected to complete an Introduction Exercise that contributes 5% toward the final course grade.

Late Assignment Policy

Assignments are designed to accommodate students with a variety of work schedules and personal commitments.  The schedule assumes that all coursework will be completed by midnight Pacific Standard Time (PST) on the assigned date.  If you have an illness (medical documentation required) or a family emergency, please contact the instructor.  Late assignments (submitted after midnight on the assigned date) will result in a reduction of points.  The points for an assignment will be reduced by 5% for each day that the assignment is submitted after the due date.  Extra-credit assignments are not available.  Incomplete grades will not be granted except in extraordinary circumstances. 

Discussion is an important element of this course and will be used to explore the concepts presented in the reading.  The forum is a venue for learning, asking questions, agreeing, disagreeing, and admit uncertainty.  As such, you are expected to follow the social rules based on SJSU Dos and Don’ts of Online Posts and ALA’s Statement of Appropriate Conduct.

Other Relevant Information:

This course examines basic research methods for librarians with an emphasis on action research.  This requires understanding action research philosophy, transformative practices, and learning potential within organizational environments; evaluating, interpreting, and synthesizing scholarly professional literature on action research; and appreciating the enrichment potential of action research for professional practice.

The curriculum design encourages students to recognize critical questions for action research initiatives in organizational contexts; involve action research beneficiaries and stakeholders in framing and furthering projects, and recognize appropriate methods for gathering data and generating insights that improve local circumstances.  Additionally, the course furthers understanding of how to recognize and define a research question, objective, or hypothesis in the workplace with the aim of improving professional practice; and how to create an action research proposal that anticipates research design elements.

Waiver Option: If a student has taken and passed a graduate-level research methods course AND completed a thesis or dissertation as part of a previous graduate degree (as documented by an official transcript), the student can petition the iSchool Graduate Advisor to waive the INFO 285 requirement. A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree.

If a student has taken and passed a graduate-level research methods course within the last 5 years (as documented by an official transcript), the student can petition the Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising to waive the INFO 285 requirement.

Please send an electronic copy of the transcript (scanned as a pdf file) to the Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising.

A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree. It simply means that you are not required to take INFO 285 as one of your MLIS classes.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Readings

All required readings will be available in Canvas.

Required Style Manual

Scholarly research in library and information science requires the effective communication of findings and evaluation of the writings of others. An important aspect of this scholarly communication is demonstrating your understanding and facility with standard library and information science citation formatting. Further, when you report your research findings to an audience, you must use care that information that you have cited will be available to your reader. A style manual ensures that you have provided all the information necessary for your reader. For iSchool, the established style manual is APA: See Textbooks below.

Grading Information

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100A
94 to 96A minus
91 to 93B plus
88 to 90B
85 to 87B minus
82 to 84C plus
79 to 81C
76 to 78C minus
73 to 75D plus
70 to 72D
67 to 69D minus
Below 67F

In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA) level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, or BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9 (PDF), relevant university policy concerning all courses, such as student responsibilities, academic integrity, accommodations, dropping and adding, consent for recording of class, etc. and available student services (e.g. learning assistance, counseling, and other resources) are listed on the Syllabus Information web page. Make sure to visit this page to review and be aware of these university policies and resources.

Course Schedule

The schedule represents an overview of the topics and is organized by module and date. Each module represents approximately 2 weeks. The majority of assignments are due on Sunday at 11:59 PM (PST), unless otherwise noted. The schedule is subject to change based on class needs.




1. Aug 21 – Sep 3

  • Introduction to the Course
  • Introduction to Your Classmates
  • Decide if you want to work on the Action Research Study Proposal assignment alone or with a group.

Due: Introduction-Part 1 (8/27)

Due: Post to Seeking Group Members forum (8/27)


Due: Introduction-Part 2 (9/3)

Due: Post to Group Members Identified forum (9/3)

2. Sep 4 – Sep 17

9/4 Labor Day

  • What is action research?
  • Identifying a Topic and Scholarly Sources


Due: Action Research Plan (9/17)


3. Sep 18 – Oct 1

  • Writing the Introduction
  • APA format for in-text citations and reference list

Due: Introduction Draft & APA Format (10/1)

4. Oct 2 – Oct 15

Creating annotations for the Annotated Bibliography

Due: Annotated Bibliography Draft (10/15)

5. Oct 16 – Oct 29

SJSU’s Institutional Review Board Training Requirement for Human Research Subjects (CITI Program)

Due: CITI Program Certificate (10/29)


6. Oct 30 – Nov 12

11/10 Veterans Day

Describing participants, data collection, and procedures

Due: Method Draft (11/12)

7. Nov 13 – Nov 26

11/23 & 11/24 Thanksgiving Holiday

Finalize ARSP


8. Nov 27 – Dec 6

12/6 Class ends

Due: Action Research Study Proposal (12/6)