Tutorial 6: Beginning the First Cycle
Tutorial 7: Collecting Data
Tutorial 7: Activities
A: Planning - Create a Data Collect Plan
Review your cycle question and your logic model focusing on the near outcomes. What data will help you know if the outcome you are looking for happened? You will need to decide on what data will help you answer the question. List the forms of data you can think of to collect that will help you answer this question. For each data artifact, decide why, when, who, and how you will collect it, as well as what consent or permissions you will need to be able to do this.
Consider these questions to help you develop your data collection plan.
What data will you collect? It is helpful to gather data on the same question in different ways, using different sources, and at perhaps at different time periods (triangulation). Review the list of data sources from Tutorial 7 resources and think about will work for your study. In your review of the literature, what data did others collect? Did they have a survey that you can use?
Why are you collecting this data? Explore the connections between you overall research question and your cycle question. Will this data help you understand what happened as a result of your action in a way that addresses your goals? It is not particularly helpful to collect piles of research data without a plan and the time to make sense of the data. Be mindful of your timeline and what you can reasonably collect and analyze. It can be as simple as having a few conversations with co-workers or using an educational activity as your data.
Who is going to collect it? Is this data being collected by you, or by a team of colleagues working together?
Where and When are you going to collect the data? Fill out our timeline so that you have a plan when, where and who will be responsible for data collection. How much will be enough? What is the time intervals for data collection? What tools or technology will you be using and who will set up and test the equipment if necessary.
Do you need permission or consent to collect the data? If you can collect your data as part of doing your job, you do not need permission. If you are asking others to do something beyond their normal activities, then you may need to have formal permission to collect this data. See the section on ethical issues. If you are working in a group, your advisor will be determining your need for permission and consent.
How long will it take to collect the data? Use your Timeline from the last Tutorial to make the time you will need for data collection and data analysis.
B: Building your Knowledge about Research Methods
Review the data artifacts in Tutorial 7 Resources. The Online Evaluation Resource Library (OERL) is a library developed for professionals seeking to design, conduct, document, or review project evaluations. Action Research is not the same as project evaluation but you may be using some of the same tools, just in a less formal way. If you are new to research, these modules can be an interactive way to learn more.
Instrument Triangulation and Adaptation
Designing an Evaluation:
Developing Written Questionnaires:
You can also hold focus groups to discuss your actions with some of the people who were involved. You can have students give you a thumbs up, sideways, or down on an activity and keep track of the numbers. Sometimes a time on task analysis might work. For example, every ten minutes you could stop and count the number of students who are not engaged and write that number down. You can focus on the type, number, or quality of the questions students ask during a lesson or activity as a way of assessing their understanding. This could be collected by using your phone as a recorder and then later listening for questions. The important thing in action research is to collect the data that will document the change you seek. Ask yourself what would you take as evidence that a change has taken place? The answer will help you think about what data to collect.
C: Reflection - Continuing your Action Research Journal or Blog:
The more regularly you write in your journal, the more written work you will have to pull from when you are ready to write your final report. You should be in the practice of making weekly entries. Here is a possible progression:
1) Reflective Description-- you tell us what took place and some thoughts about the how and why of the events. This chronicles your action research process and is very important
2) Reflective Practice -- This is the form of reflection where you draw out the connections between what is happening now with what has happened in the past and what you think might happen in the future. You have moved away from the description of the research setting to your larger framework of the nature of the practice that you are engaged in and how your action and reactions have helped you rethink the way you practice.
3) Reflective Knowledge Building--This moves to the abstract level... how does this event link to what you know and are learning. This is knowledge building. In the end, your knowledge should be different as you open up your philosophical stance and compare it to the data you have collected. There is a back and forth between the empirical data and the mental structure of your mind. It is a flexible state where you use data to explore the way you think.
For more ideas, see the section on reflection.
D: Writing - Outlining Your Action Research Report
Your revised Action research plan should be saved together with all of the files you are creating. You can create a website to develop your action research portfolio. See Resources for a list of tools for creating free websites.
Action Research Report/Website Structure
Creating your online portfolio for your Action Research
Consider using the following Tabs:
Use images wherever possible:
HOME: (Tutorial 3, Activity D)
Use the paragraphs you crafted earlier to give an overview of the project
ACTION RESEARCH CHALLENGE: (Tutorial 2, Activity D)
Your visitors may be new to action research. Explain how you plan to use this process to develop your understanding and skills by enacting change. Include your overall action research question here.
MY WORK/COMMUNITY CONTEXT: (Tutorial 5, Activity A)
You don't need to identify your action research by name, although in some cases you may want to. But you can also say, a small company designing computer... or a large urban school in Southern California.
LITERATURE REVIEW: (From Tutorial 5, Activity B)
Describe what you have learned about your topic from reading what others have done to solve this problem. It is helpful to have a summary and then have the visitor click again to read the whole report.
CYCLES OF RESEARCH: (Tutorials 5, 6, 7, and 8)
The Layout could be a drop-down menu for each cycle, or you could have a page that describes the three cycles in a frame like the one above which then links to the cycle reports.
CYCLE 1: (PLAN OR REPORT)
FIRST CYCLE RESEARCH QUESTION: This question needs to contain two very important parts. The first part clearly states what you will do in very specific language. And the second part shares your best guess at an outcome (the reactions of others that you expect to result from your action.) Your action research is a design experiment. You are designing with an eye towards a deeper understanding of design action.
EVIDENCE USED TO EVALUATE THE ACTION: What evidence will you collect to tell you how other respond to your action. What will you look to give you direct or indirect evidence of what happened?
EVALUATION: How will you/did you evaluate the outcomes of your action?.....(Indicate your plans for your analysis in a paragraph or two).
REFLECTION: (to be added after the cycle is complete) Looking back on my action with the benefit of data, I now think... and if I were to do this again I would have. The thing that worked best was... What most surprised me from the data was...
CYCLE 2: (Plan)
PLANNING THE ACTION FOR CYCLE TWO: The outcomes and my reflections on cycle one have changed my plans in the following way. (While the plans might change after completing cycle one, share your current thoughts on the second cycle of action research)
CYCLE 3 (Placeholder)
(You are not ready to write this yet but will be collecting ideas in your action research blogs.
Collect these from the end of your literature review and anywhere else there were references and list them all together at the end of the project.
Congratulations...you have just completed your storyboard for your website. )
E- Build Knowledge Together - Reciprocal Feedback Among Peers
In a discussion, what builds knowledge? Here are some ideas of how you can participate in discussions about your action research with your colleagues/learning circle partners/or critical friends in a way that builds knowledge together. When you provide feedback or comments back to your peers, what are you doing to help move their thinking forward?
Help others see their strengths
Compliments are more effective with you can be specific about what makes something good. We like to know others like our work, but we like it much better when we know why someone likes our work. What was it that they found impressive, cool, or powerful? This effort to reflect on why you like something will help you be more reflective about your own choices.
Provide advice on spelling or grammar
Find broken links
Give feedback on navigation links, color, font problems or other issues you see
Look for underlying causes or draw connections between behavior on one setting and another.
Share a relevant story from your practice and making the conceptual link back to their situation.
Summarize a discussion pulling what others have said and synthesizing into a few clear positions and then extending the discussion.
Find more evidence to support their ideas or practice.
Represent the information in the way that helps see the connections
Suggest design improvement in the action research or different methods that they might try.
Challenge a position or assumption with the goal of helping them
be more reflective on different perspectives.
Find and share information that challenges there ideas or practice.
Represent the information in a way that helps one see different connections.
Ask yourself what you are doing before, during and after writing comments. Be aware of the development of your skill to build knowledge collaboratively through dialogue and feedback.