Understanding Co-operatives through Action Research: an introduction

This introductory course assumes some basic knowledge of how to conduct research but the approach is one underpinned by co-operative values and principles through the use of participatory and action research methods. It is aimed at those working in and for co-operatives or for those keen to understand co-operatives and to research ‘the co-operative difference’. Resources will be produced for interactive webinars and a workshop focused on interpreting data and disseminating research will be held.

Participants will be awarded a Co-operative College Certificate in Co-operative Education, Research and Practice.

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to enhance participants’ understanding of action and participatory research; prepare them for applying these research methods and illustrate how collected data and research findings can be analysed, interpreted and disseminated.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this short course participants will be able to:

  • Describe and discuss the nature and purpose of action participatory research approaches in relation to researching co-operatives
  • Compare and contrast research methods and methodology
  • Construct research questions and a research design
  • Recognise issues of ethics and consent
  • Critically analyse and establish research findings
  • Understand ways of disseminating research


Reason P (2002) The Practice of Co-operative Enquiry (special issue) Systematic Practice and Action Research 15 (3) 169-270.
Action Research: http://infed.org/mobi/action-research/

Session 1: Co-operative Research or Researching Co-operatives? Getting Started and Welcome
Date: 7 September 12.30-1.30 – webinar (Recording available if attendance problematic)
A short introductory session which outlines the course and offers an opportunity to meet each other.
Session 2: Designing Research (2hour webinar)
Date: 28 September 2-4pm – webinar (Recording available if attendance problematic)
  • What do you need to find out and why?
  • Looking at the literature
  • Co-production
  • Which method, which methodology?
  • Which questions?
Session 3: Doing Research (2 hours)
Date: October 6th 2-4pm. – webinar (Recording available if attendance problematic)
  • Fieldwork, access, consent and ethics
  • Interviews
  • Handling your data: narratives; questionnaires and surveys
  • Data protection and management
Session 4: Interpreting Research and Writing Up
Date: Saturday 21 October (Day Workshop 10-4)
  • Making Findings Matter: interpreting data using live case studies
  • Writing reports, evaluations, abstracts and papers
  • Disseminating your findings.

Delivery: 3 linked webinars; resource and readings pack, workshop in Manchester (sandwich lunch included)

Cost £95/ £65 (Concessions)

7th September 2017