Post print of: McMahon, T & Jefford, E 2009, 'Assessing action‐research projects within formal academic programmes: using Elliott’s context‐related criteria to resolve the rigour versus flexibility dilemma', Educational Action Research, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 359-71.
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An action‐research account of a successful improvement to practice presented for assessment within a taught MA in education was given a fail grade. The student’s challenge to this decision led the university assessor to re‐evaluate and change his own practice in assessment in much the same way as the student had in the original report. The narrative of this event is used to explore the central dilemma of assessing action‐research reports inside academic programmes; namely, the competing needs of the action‐researcher to follow the investigation wherever it leads and the need for the student to meet pre‐set criteria for assessment. Following an introduction, Part 2 of the paper presents an extract from the original action‐research account while Part 3 presents the story of the assessment and notes how it exemplifies some of the key issues relating to the way action‐research can and should be assessed within credentialed academic programmes. Part 4 explores these issues further and suggests that Elliott’s formulation of quality criteria can resolve the central dilemma of marking action‐research reports within credentialed programmes of study.