A Journey Through Technology

Week 9 Data Collection Update

This was a slow week for data collection. A few of my classes used the clickers on Monday to finish up the notes on electrons, but other than that clickers were not used. I was able to make some observations during those classes, but the next big day of observations will be next week as we move on to our next unit. I plan on making observations during a clicker day next week, as well as a non-clicker day, as I realized I have nothing to compare my clicker-day observations to at this point in my research. I plan on giving students the same Likert survey they took at the beginning of the research on the last day of data collection, and now I am thinking of writing another survey that is open ended to get some feedback from students on what they think about using clickers in class. I also want to know what they think it means to be engaged in class and see how that compares with my definition of engagement.

I don’t feel like I have very much data at this point, but I think that by the time data collection is finished I will have enough to make some decent conclusions. I feel like this project has made me approach teaching in an entirely different way and I am becoming a lot more reflective about my teaching as a whole.

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How will you go about making sense of your data?

Qualitative research yields data that can include interviews, documents, or observations (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.105). In order to come to a conclusion at the end of a research project, the data that is collected must be analyzed. “Data analysis is the process used to answer your research question(s).” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.202) Some possible steps to following in conducting qualitative data analysis are to review the data, organize the data, code the data, and finally interpret the data (CDC, 2009).

As you gather data for analysis, it is helpful to review all of your data to make sure you completely understand the content (CDC, 2009). Once data has been reviewed for understanding, it then needs to be organized. In organizing, it helps to group data together that have similar themes, which can be done manually by using file folders or electronically using computer assisted qualitative analysis (CAQDAS) programs (Lewins, Taylor, & Gibbs, 2003). Once the data itself is organized, coding is a tool that is helpful for organizing information contained within the data. “Coding is the process of identifying and labeling themes within your data that correspond with the evaluation questions you want to answer.” (CDC, 2009) It is important to code your data as it is collected to make sure you don’t forget important characteristics when the data is later analyzed (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.199).

The last step of data analysis is to interpret the data. A good place to start in interpreting the data is to make a list of key themes (CDC, 2009). “Qualitative data analysis is all about identifying themes, categories, patterns, or answers to your research questions” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.216). As you work on interpreting your data, you should be able to identify the answer to your research question, even if it wasn’t what you expected. One of the hardest parts about data analysis is knowing when to stop. When you are unable to produce new information or insights into your topic, saturation has occurred (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.198). Once you have reached the point of saturation, data analysis does not need to continue because you won’t be able to learn anything new.

The main sources of data for my research are survey results and observation notes. The data will be organized according to type. The survey results are numeric, so they will be analyzed by comparing the survey results from the beginning of the research to the end of the research. The observation notes will be coded by looking for key words that appear in multiple observations, and then I will interpret the observations according to the different codes. The question I am trying to answer in my research is “Does the use of clickers increase student engagement in the high school chemistry classroom?”, so I will be looking for evidence of engagement when clickers are used versus when they are not used in class.


Analyzing Qualitative Data for Evaluation. (2009, April 1). Retrieved October 29, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/evaluation/pdf/brief19.pdf

Lewins, A., Taylor, C., & Gibbs, G. (2005, November 23). What is Qualitative Data Analysis. Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://onlineqda.hud.ac.uk/Intro_QDA/what_is_qda.php

Merriam, S., & Tisdell, E. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

O’Connor, H., & Gibson, N. (2003). A Step-by-Step Guide to Qualitative Data Analysis. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 1(1), 63-90. Retrieved October 29, 2015, from http://www.pimatisiwin.com/uploads/1289566991.pdf


Week 8 Reflection

For the blog this week, I had a hard time finding a lot of information about data mining that wasn’t related to businesses. A lot of the resources for data mining involve mining very large amounts of data, so I had trouble connecting that with the qualitative data analysis. I think I did a pretty good job of figuring things out, though, and I hope my post was helpful to the rest of the class. Peter commented on my post and said one of my quotes helped him understand the assignment for the week, and I’m glad I could contribute.

Reading through my classmates blogs has helped me realize a few things I should be thinking about with my research, like the difference between my definition of engagement and my students’ definitions. I never even thought to have a discussion about what engagement actually is, but this week’s blogs and comments made me realize that is probably a good idea. We all seem to be having trouble balancing observations with our teaching as well, but aside from having an outside person come in to observe for us, I don’t know that there is a lot we can do to fix that right now. I am trying to narrow my observation down to look only for specific things, but I don’t know how that will change until I try using my new tally sheet next week.

I feel that this was a good week for my learning, as well as contributing to my classmates learning. I look forward to seeing what this week brings!

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Update on Data Collection

This was my second week of collecting data. So far I have used Poll Everywhere in my classes 3 times. Before we used it in class the first time I gave all of my students a survey about how they perceive their engagement in class and their preparedness for class. It was a Likert scale with 5 choices and I made a spreadsheet for each class and calculated average values for each of the ten questions. I will compare these values to the same survey, which will be given at the conclusion of the research. I have also been trying to make observations and record them while each class uses their phones as clickers. I am finding it it very difficult to make observations and teach at the same time, so I will be trying to get a helper to come in an observe for me in class.

I made a tally sheet to keep track of the number of times students are not engaged in class, as well as the number of students in each class on a given day that don’t have cell phones or some other device. I try to take notes after each class, or at least at the end of the day, especially if there was something that either went very well, or not very well. Right now an issue I am having in two of my classes is multiple students are picking random answers for questions instead of trying to get the right answer. I plan on making participation while using clickers a grade, and I think that will help keep students on track.

Overall, I am very happy with the way things are going in my research. Next week I plan on taking a look at my observation and reflection notes I have taken so far and performing some data analysis to see if I need to make any changes. I look forward to seeing how things progress over the next few weeks

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How can data mining assist you in triangulating your research findings?

Cohen & Crabtree (2006) define triangulation as the use of “multiple data sources in an investigation to produce understanding.” Qualitative research uses triangulation, as it involves collecting data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and surveys, to answer a research question. Since multiple sources of data are used in qualitative research, it would be useful to be able to analyze the data from each of the different sources all at once. “Data mining…is the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information.” (Palace, 1996) Data mining finds relationships between the different types of data collected during research in ways that a researcher might not be able to see. “Data mining discovers hidden information in your data, but it cannot tell you the value of the information to your organization.” (Oracle, 2008) Data mining is only part of the analysis process, because it still must be analyzed by the researcher in order for the information to have any meaning.

It is important to note that “collection and analysis should be a simultaneous process in qualitative research.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.195) Qualitative research tends to evolve as it is being conducted, so it is a good idea not to wait until the end of data collection to start analyzing findings. If data analysis is performed during the collection process it can allow the researcher to make changes to the research design if needed.


Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006, July 1). Triangulation. Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Merriam, S., & Tisdell, E. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Oracle. (2008, May 1). What Is Data Mining? Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://docs.oracle.com/cd/B28359_01/datamine.111/b28129/process.htm

Palace, B. (1996). Data Mining: What is Data Mining? Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/jason.frand/teacher/technologies/palace/datamining.htm.


Week 7 Reflection

This week I started collecting data for my project. The infographic assignment for this week really helped me figure out some of the issues I’m having making observations while using Poll Everywhere. My classmates helped me a lot this week, and I hope I was able to help them as well. We all seemed to agree that observations are hard in the classroom because there are so many things going on and it’s hard to focus only on specific behaviors for observations. As I learn more about the different experiences my classmates have in their classrooms, it helps me see ways I can change things about how I teach, and hopefully become a better teacher.

Peter had a good point in his comment on my post this week about keeping bias out of the classroom when we look at student behavior. It’s important to not be biased during research, but I had never thought about any bias I might have on a day-to-day basis with my students.

Tristan shared the behaviors she is checking for her students during her research observation, and I think that will really help me narrow down my observations as I continue my research.

I think I contributed to the learning of others this week by being supportive and giving my honest feedback about their infographics. I think that everyone did very well on their infographics this week. It helped that we all finally understood where the citations were supposed to be, because I know I didn’t get that right in week 6.

I’m very excited for this next week to continue my research. I hope that I can get some good observations this week!

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What are the most important things to remember when observing your students?



My infographic contains my key points for conducting effective classroom observations. The teacher needs to be in a position where they can see all of the students, and should be standing to show students they are involved in the class. One way of recording data while observing is to use a code sheet so simple marks can be made instead of writing large amounts of information. It is important to remain unbiased during the observation as well, so the observer should not include thoughts and opinions as part of the observation data. It’s also important to note that you can’t see everything, so pick certain things you wish to observe before hand. This can include the location, the students, what is happening during the activity, conversations that might be occurring,


Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006, July 1). Observation. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Linsin, M. (2012, December 15). Why You Should Observe Your Students More. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Merriam, S., & Tisdell, E. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Trochim, W. (2006, October 20). Qualitative Methods. Retrieved October 13, 2015.


Week #6 Reflection

This week I think I did well contributing to the blogs of my classmates. I posted on quite a few of the infographics, and shared my thoughts on the most important things to remember for each. I thought Tristan’s focus on making the interviewees comfortable was helpful because that wasn’t one of the main things I would think to focus on.

I agreed with Peter that one of the most important parts of the interview is the data collection. But, that got me thinking about what would happen if the interview couldn’t be recorded. If one of the participants would not agree to being recorded, would I be able to keep up with the interview and still keep track of my data? This is actually one of the reasons I’m probably not going to use interviews as one of my data collection methods. The closer I’m getting to starting data collection, the more things have started falling into place, and interviews don’t really seem to fit into the grand scheme of things for this project.

Theresa shared the S.O.L.E.R. acronym in her infographic, which sounds like a great tool to help remember the steps for being an active listener. It would be very hard to collect decent data during an interview without being an active listener, so I will definitely keep this in mind for any future interviews I may conduct.

Sara’s post was helpful for me because it mentioned things to avoid during interviews. She mentioned the influence that the interviewer can have on the interviewee, and that is definitely something to take into account to prevent a bias in the interview.

This was a good week for me because I feel like I learned a lot from my classmates, and I also feel like I contributed to their learning as well. I am almost ready to start data collection. I had to add my survey questions and focus group questions to my proposal, so once I get the ok I will start with the project. I did a trial run using Poll Everywhere in a few of my classes last week to see how it would go, and it looks like its going to work very well and I should be able to get some other sources of data I hadn’t anticipated. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks of data collection and I can’t wait to start sorting through information to see if I am actually able to increase student engagement.

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What are the most important things to remember in conducting interviews?

QualtitaiveResearchInterviewsA popular source of data in qualitative research is the interview. “The most common form of interview is the person-to-person encounter, in which one person elicits information from another.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.108) There are a few things that are crucial to conducting an effective research interview. One of the first things that needs to be address before conducting an interview is the topic of discussion. Sun (2008) gives a few examples of questions to consider when preparing to interview. “What information can you gain from the interviewee? How will this information help you achieve your other goals? How will you be better off after having conducted this interview?” (Sun) Once you know why you are going to conduct an interview, you can move on to figuring out what you want to learn.

In qualitative research, “interviewing…is more open-ended and less structured.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.110) “Respondents should be able to choose their own terms when answering questions.” (McNamara) Open-ended questions allow the respondent to answer how they see fit. Questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” should be limited. “The disadvantage of closed questions is that in using them, you may be jumping too quickly to conclusions.” (Sun)

One of the most important things about conducting an interview is selecting the participants. In qualitative research “the crucial factor is not the number of respondents but the potential of each person to contribute to the development of insight and understanding of the phenomenon.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.127) Selecting participants should not be random, but instead each person should be selected to interview for a specific reason.

It is also important to take “The interviewer should record responses as they are being stated.” (Trochim) If a recording device is used, this can simplify the process and eliminate furious writing while the participants are responding. Even if the interview is recorded, it is still a good idea to write down any observations after the interview is concluded. “For example, where did the interview occur and when, was the respondent particularly nervous at any time? Were there any surprises during the interview? Did the tape recorder break?” (McNamara)


McNamara, C. (n.d.). General Guidelines for Conducting Research Interviews. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

Merriam, S., & Tisdell, E. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sun, C. (2008, October 27). 10 tips on conducting effective interviews. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

Trochim, W. (2006, October 20). Interviews. Retrieved October 9, 2015.




For most students, high school chemistry is not an easy class. It is not a class based on memorization of concepts, but instead learning how to apply concepts to the world around them. While everyone seems to associate chemistry with explosions and fun experiments, every day course work can cause students to lose interest and focus their attention elsewhere. Through action research, I hope to make the more boring parts of chemistry, namely notes and lecture, a more engaging experience for my students by using clickers, or Audience Response Systems (ARS). I currently teach five sections of high school chemistry and one section of high school physical science. The focus of this project will be two chemistry classes, one consisting of 22 tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade students, another consisting of 25 tenth and eleventh grade students. These two classes represent a wide range of academic abilities and I believe they will both provide an adequate research environment as I research the question “Does the use of clickers increase student engagement in the high school chemistry classroom?”

Literature Review

Many teachers are constantly working to change how material is presented in their classrooms so the students become more engaged and take a more active role in learning. Many classes use a traditional lecture-driven model, but there is a lack of evidence that lecture-driven classes should be the only instruction approach used in classrooms (Lumpkin, Achen, & Dodd, 2015, p.121). Classroom communication systems, which include the use of clickers, or Audience Response Systems (ARS), are commonly used to break out of the lecture-based teaching style.

Beatty (2004) defines classroom communication systems (CCCs) as “technology products…designed to support communication and interactivity in classes” (p.2). Moore (2007), as cited by Devlin (2013), says that learners have “grown accustomed to acquiring information and communicating by utilizing technology-based methods” (p.1). Students are rarely seen without some kind of technology in their hand, so why not add that to the normal classroom routine. Multiple research studies have been conducted and have found a strong correlation between the use of an ARS and increase student participation and engagement. (Barnes, 2008, p.535; Beatty, 2004, p.5; Dunn, Richardson, Oprescu, and McDonald, 2012, p.1173; Gunn, 2014, p.1; McNabb, 2009, p.20; Micheletto, 2011, p.10; Terrion & Aceti, 2012).

One benefit to using clickers as an educational tool is that an active learning environment can be created. An active learning environment allows students to learn from doing activities and working with other students instead of just listening to a teacher lecture. Lumpkin et al. (2015) found that “active, collaborative activities engaged students and positively impacted learning” (p.129). Barnes (2008) used both lecture-free and lecture-based methods with four different high school biology classes and found that a majority of students preferred the lecture-free method that utilized an ARS, saying they learned more and had to use their brains more than in the lecture-based method (p.534).

However, it is not a simple process to begin using an ARS in the classroom. “Using new technologies in teaching brings with it the risk of mis-using technology or not using technology in a pedagogically effective way” (Chittleborough, 2014, p.391). It would be very easy to start using clickers without carefully planning how to use them effectively. Shirley, Irving, Sanalan, Pape, and Owens (2010) also touch on an important aspect of using connected classroom technology (CCT), and that is how practical it is to use. “Practicality consists of three constructs: congruence with teacher’s values and practice; instrumentality — compatibility with the existing school structures, and cost/benefits — whether the reward is worth the effort” (Shirley et al., 2010, p.459) It is possible that implementing a certain technology will not fit well in certain schools or with all teachers. Penuel, Boscardin, Masyn, and Crawford (2006) mention a need for teachers to have adequate training in how to use student response systems effectively in the classroom (p.342). Most teachers do not have a background in the different technologies available, so extra training would be beneficial before using them in the classroom.

“With the ubiquitous use of computers in society there is an increasing need for computer technology to be integrated into teaching” (Chittleborough, 2014, p.374).  Utilizing clicker technology is one way of integrating a computer technology into the classroom, and hopefully that integration will increase student engagement and offer students a better active learning environment. “Technology may offer a means to enhance student engagement” (Terrion et al., 2012), so trying to implement an active learning classroom by using clickers appears to be an attainable goal.


This research project will focus on two chemistry classes, first period and fifth period, at Palmer High School, in Palmer, AK. Classes at Palmer High School operate on a modified block schedule. In a normal five-day school week, classes meet four days during the week. Two of the days are forty-eight minute periods, and two of the days are sixty-seven minute periods. Students enrolled in these two classes range from tenth grade through twelfth grade, with twenty-six sophomores, nineteen juniors, and two seniors. Of the forty-seven students in the study, 42.6% are female and 57.4% are male.

The Audience Response Devices (ARS) used in this project are the students’ own cell phones. By using the website Poll Everywhere (https://www.polleverywhere.com/), students will be able to turn their cell phone into a clicker by simply texting their answers to a pre-determined location. I will be using the K-12 premium plan for a wider variety of options with respect to grading and data collection. Student responses are anonymous to the class using this platform, but the teacher can still see who answers each questions, and if they answer correctly.

At the beginning of the project, before the students have used clickers in class, each student will take a survey consisting of approximately 10 Likert-scale questions asking them how they perceive their engagement and participation in class. Students will then take the same survey after the five-week research has concluded.

A second method of data collection will be through student focus groups. A focus group of approximately 3-4 students per class period will meet twice during the research project, once at the beginning and once again at the end. I will randomly select students to be in the focus group to decrease the likelihood of any bias in the students. The focus groups will meet during PHARM time, which is an advisory-type period that occurs every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for 30 minutes. Each group will get a set of questions to discuss as a group. I will record audio and take notes as each group discusses the questions.

The final method of data collection will be through observations and notes. I will use a tally system for each class to make note of any time a student is not engaged in class. Tallies will be taken at least twice per week, once during a clicker day, and once on a non-clicker day. These tallies will be anonymous, so I will not be keeping track for each student individually. An outside observer will come to class and assist me in making tallies so I do not have to try to teach while making tallies at the same time. This observer will make a mark anytime a student is not actively engaged in class. Examples of behavior that would receive a tally mark are: inappropriate cell phone use, talking out of turn, head on desk, or working on other homework, the observer will mark a tally on the sheet for that class. At the end of each class period that clickers are used, I will also make a short note about how things went during class and any issues I may have encountered.

The study will be conducted over a five-week period. During this time clickers will be used any time notes are presented or we have a class discussion about a topic, as well as if we are reviewing for a test or quiz. There will be at least two assessments given during the research period, and I estimate that clickers will be used at least once per week.

To measure if student engagement increases when using clickers, I will look at my three sources of data. I will compare tally counts for days we used clickers to the days we did not use clickers. I will also use notes taken during the clicker days to evaluate the tally marks.

The average Likert score for each of the questions for the initial survey will be compared to the averages for the final survey to see if students’ perceptions about their engagement have changed.

The focus groups from before the study and after the study will also be compared to see if there are any significant changes in the group discussions.


Barnes, L. (2008). Lecture-Free High School Biology Using an Audience Response System. The American Biology Teacher, 70(9), 531-536.

Beatty, I. (2004). Transforming Student Learning with Classroom Communication Systems. EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, 2004(3).

Chittleborough, G. (2014). Learning How to Teach Chemistry with Technology: Pre-Service Teachers’ Experiences with Integrating Technology into Their Learning and Teaching. J Sci Teacher Educ Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25, 373-393.

Devlin, T., Feldhaus, C., & Bentrem, K. (2013). The Evolving Classroom: A Study of Traditional and Technology-Based Instruction in a STEM Classroom. Journal of Technology Education, 25(1).

Dunn, P., Richardson, A., Oprescu, F., & Mcdonald, C. (2013). Mobile-phone-based classroom response systems: Students’ perceptions of engagement and learning in a large undergraduate course. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 44(8), 1160-1174.

Gunn, E. (2014). Using Clickers to Collect Formative Feedback on Teaching: A Tool for Faculty Development. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(1).

Lumpkin, A., Achen, R., & Dodd, R. (2015). Student Perceptions of Active Learning. College Student Journal, 49(1).

McNabb, K. (2009). Use of an Audience Response System to Evaluate and Streamline a General Chemistry Class.

Micheletto, M. (2011). Conducting A Classroom Mini-Experiment Using An Audience Response System: Demonstrating the Isolation Effect. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 8(8).

Penuel, W., Boscardin, C., Masyn, K., & Crawford, V. (2006). Teaching with student response systems in elementary and secondary education settings: A survey study. Education Tech Research Dev Educational Technology Research and Development, 55, 315-346.

Shirley, M., Irving, K., Sanalan, V., Pape, S., & Owens, D. (2010). The Practicality Of Implementing Connected Classroom Technology In Secondary Mathematics And Science Classrooms. Int J of Sci and Math Educ International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9, 459-481.

Terrion, J., & Aceti, V. (2012). Perceptions of the effects of clicker technology on student learning and engagement: A study of freshmen Chemistry students. Research in Learning Technology, 20.

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