A Journey Through Technology

How will data collection look for me? What challenges am I anticipating?

on October 1, 2015

In qualitative research, “data are collected through interviews, observations, or document analysis” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 24). For my research project, I plan on using three methods of data collection. My main source of data will be interviews. Demarrais (2004), as cited by Merriam & Tisdell (2016), defines interviews in research as “a process in which a researcher and participant engage in a conversation focused on questions related to a research study” (Demarrais, 2004, p.55, as cited by Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 107). My second sources of data will be surveys which “…are carried out by institutions such as schools…with the goal of gathering facts about or learning more about the demographic characteristics, behaviours, and attitudes of their students…” (Andres, 2012, p.1) The third source of data will be observations I make during class.

The goal of my research project is to determine if the use of clickers increases student engagement. To measure this, I will be using individual interviews, focus groups, surveys, and observations. The interviews, both individual and focus groups, will be conducted with students that volunteer. If I don’t get enough volunteers, I will select students to interview as well. The research will be conducted in two of my five chemistry classes, consisting of approximately 60 students total. My goal is to get 2-3 individual students per class to interview and to get a focus group of 3-4 different students per class. All interviews will be conducted twice during the research project: once half-way through the project, and once at the end of the project. One of the biggest challenges I anticipate for the interview process is developing good questions. Many of the articles from my literature review have good examples of questions, so I will use those to help me develop more questions that relate specifically to my project.

I plan on using surveys with all of my students in the research classes. These surveys will use a 5-point Likert scale to ask students about the use of clickers in class and how students were affected by them. A “Likert Scale is a five (or seven) point scale which is used to allow the individual to express how much they agree or disagree with a particular statement” (McLeod, 2008). Almost all of the articles from my literature review utilized surveys to collect data on the effectiveness of technology use in classrooms, so I see this as a valuable data source in my research. There are many examples of survey questions in the literature, so I am not anticipating any challenges coming up with questions for my surveys. The surveys will all be anonymous, which will hopefully encourage students to be honest.

Observations will be made during class periods when the clickers are used, as well as during normal, clicker-free class periods. I will use a tallies to record when students are not engaged in class. Engagement will be defined as a student focusing their attention on me, the teacher, and actively participating in class. Active participation includes taking notes, making eye-contact, answering questions, and participating in class discussions. If students are off-task, using cell phones when not intended, have their heads on their desks, or show other ways of not being engaged, they will be given a tally mark. A challenge I anticipate with observations is being able to observe all students while I am teaching.


Andres, L. (2012). Designing & doing survey research. London: SAGE.

McLeod, S. A. (2008). Likert Scale. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/likert-scale.html

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

6 responses to “How will data collection look for me? What challenges am I anticipating?

  1. Tristan says:

    Will your focus groups also be conducted once halfway through and then at the end? What type of questions are you planning on asking? How will you decide which students to select if you don’t get enough volunteers? Are you planning on recording and transcribing them? I’m going to do that with focus groups, but just had the thought that if I do focus groups too many times, that’s going to take forever, that’s why I asked how many times you were planning on doing them. Good questions is also a challenge I anticipate, I only have 7 boys in my 7th grade math class, so if I don’t have good questions it’ll be hard to get much out of them besides “I don’t know,” and I don’t have many other students to draw from either. I fear even if I do have good questions, I’ll still only get “I don’t know” responses.

    I like the idea of the Likert survey with kids. The five point system seems like it would be easier to give students an idea of what each number represents, in my mind I could tell my students each number related with a letter on the grading scale. I think I would have to give my 7th grade boys something to relate the numbers too. Are you planning on relating them to anything so you can analyze what the students are thinking?

    I think having a tally system to easily mark what students are doing will definitely help overcome the challenge you are anticipating of observing all students. You have some good ideas I can add to my tally sheet for my project. I’ll be interested in knowing if students use their cell phones only for when it was intended or if they are using them other times as well.


    • Sarah K says:

      At this point I am planning on focus groups once in the middle and once a the end. I just don’t think there would be enough time to do them more often than that. If I don’t get enough volunteers, I will try to get a good mix of quiet students and more vocal students, as well as an even mix of boys and girls. I have a feeling the only ones that will volunteer will be my more active students, so I’m thinking of maybe using food as an enticement for them to join the focus groups.

      I hadn’t even thought of relating the numbers on a Likert scale to letter grades. I think that is a great idea! In class I sometimes use a “thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs sideways” to check how students are doing, so I might try relating the scale to that and see how that goes.

      I am concerned about cell phone use at other times, because normally I don’t allow kids to use their phones, but I still catch so many of them out during class. I figure if we are using them for questions, maybe they will be engaged enough that they won’t have a chance to use them for other things.

      Your questions gave me a lot of things to think about! Thanks for sharing your ideas with me 🙂


  2. tmerculief says:

    Sarah- I plan to do surveys as well. I like the idea of being anonymous, maybe it will get them to answer truthfully. Maybe I will do that as well. I plan to use observations as well. That is hard to observe all students when you are teaching. The thing I like about Kahoot is I can print out a spread sheet after and I can see who was participating. I am looking forward to it!


  3. gkkapatak01 says:

    I think surveys are a good idea. I used survey monkey before and liked it. I like that you plan on interviewing a few students at a time. It sounds like you’ll be collecting a lot of good data and I wish you luck!


  4. pwjohnsen says:

    “The interviews, both individual and focus groups, will be conducted with students that volunteer”. Are you worried that this might create a bias in your responses? My first reaction is that only students that enjoyed the process or students that want to give positive feedback will volunteer.
    I also intend to use a Likert scale. However, I am thinking about you using a four point scale. This eliminates the neutral answer and requires students to take a stand either for or against.
    Will you have an outside observer record your engagement data? I ask because it seems it would be very difficult to both instruct and record engagement. At my school, we have observers that come into our class and tally on-task behavior. I have found this data to be very useful, but I don’t think there is any way I could record the data while instructing.


    • Sarah K says:

      I like the idea of having an outside observer recording the tally marks. This would help me focus on the class, instead of worrying about recording tallies all class period.

      As I’ve been working on my proposal, I’ve been adjusting my how the data collection will look with interviews. I’ve decided that instead of both individual interviews and focus groups, I’m only going to use focus groups. I think I’m going to try and randomly select students to be in the focus group, which means I will need to conduct the group during class-time instead of my initial thought of using our advisory time, which isn’t mandatory for all students. I think the focus group is going to be the toughest part of my data collection because until I try it out, I won’t know what to expect.

      I like the idea of using a four point Likert survey instead of five. It would make students pick a side and hopefully stop students from just filling in without thinking about it. I will have to look into that more as I write my surveys.

      Thanks for your input! You also gave me quite a bit to think about!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: