gathering instruments

| August 27, 2015

gathering instruments

Week 2 – Data Gathering Instruments
As you consider the construction of your data gathering instruments, use the following questions and explanations by Sagor (2005) to guide you. (Hint: if you are going to conduct a survey, you need to create the survey form. If you are going to use an interview process, you need to create the interview questions.)
What are the three data sources?
Do I need a matrix for data triangulation?
Is the process clear enough that my students (clients) can understand it?
When collecting and analyzing data, action researchers can do a great deal to ensure the validity and reliability of their findings by using a process called triangulation. The term triangulation refers to the use of multiple independent data sources to corroborate findings. The purpose and necessity of corroboration is the same for the action researcher as it is for the trial lawyer. A trial lawyer knows that to convince a jury of the accuracy of a legal theory, it helps to have more than one witness; the more individual witnesses whose testimony supports the theory, the more credible the theory becomes. (Sagor, 2002, p. 16-18)
Educational action researchers usually have a wide variety of data sources available to them. Some of the most common sources are the following:

Existing data
School/teacher records
Referrals to the principal
Attendance records
Tardies
Classroom behaviors (talk outs/negative behaviors)
Number of detentions (per student)
Number of suspensions (per student)
Student work/portfolios
Observation data
Photographs
Videotapes
Diaries, logs, journals
Rating scales/rubrics
Data obtained by shadowing students through the school day
Probes
Tests
Surveys
Interviews
Focus groups
The researcher will describe the instruments and data gathering techniques used. The author must establish criteria for selecting the data as they relate to the scope of the problem, and the breadth and depth of the study should fit into the 1 to 2 week time frame of the project.

A helpful tool for planning data collection and triangulation is a triangulation matrix—a simple grid that shows the various data sources that will be used to answer each research question. The matrix provides the action researcher with some assurance that the potential for bias (which is always present whenever a single source of data is used) won’t take on undue significance. Figure 2.3 illustrates how a completed triangulation matrix for my study on student editing might look.

Figure 2.3. Triangulation Matrix—Study on Student Editing

Research Question
Data Source #1
Data Source #2
Data Source #3
What is the relationship between student enjoyment of writing and the quality of their editing?
Student survey
Analysis of first, second, and final drafts
Comparison with work on previous assignments
In what ways will providing students with a copy of a scoring rubric impact the quality of their finished papers?
Student interviews
Contrast between revisions made in assignments without rubrics and ones with rubrics
Third-party assessments of finished products
To what extent are the finished papers different when students use peer editors?
Student interviews
Contrast between revisions made in assignments without peer editing and ones completed with peer editing
Third-party assessments of finished products
From: Sagor, R. (2002). Guiding school improvement through action research. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. p. 8-16

During data analysis, the teacher researcher engages in a systematic effort to search for patterns or trends in the data. There are many ways to accomplish this. Regardless of the particular technique employed, during the analysis phase the researcher tries to systematically cut, sift, and sort the data into piles of like or similar objects. The key purpose of this systematic sorting and categorizing is to assist in answering the following two questions:
What is the story told by my data?
What might explain this story?
Once the researcher believes the process has resulted in adequate answers to those two questions, it is time for one final return to the graphic reconstruction. This time the researcher takes a critical look at the initial Action Research goal and asks how it may need to be revised based upon the analysis of the data (Sagor, 2002, p. 8-16).

What data gathering have you selected and what instruments have you constructed? Post data gathering selections and instruments you have created.

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