A Journey Through Technology

Week 12 Data Analysis Update

This week I finished compiling all of the Likert survey data I collected both at the beginning of the data collection period and the end. I also started going through the open-ended surveys I had students take on the last day, and coding the responses to group them together. The coding process is taking a little longer than I had anticipated, but I feel like I have already learned so much about how my students feel concerning the use of Poll Everywhere in my classes. I still need to go through and organize my observation notes and tallies, and also print off and organize my Poll Everywhere documents, but I think I should be finished with that by the end of this next week.

I’ve already started outlining my paper, so that is helping me feel less stressed about starting the writing process soon.

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Week 12 Reflection

I feel like I learned a lot this week by reading everyone’s posts. After reading though a few, I realized I may not have use enough support from other sources to back up my claims, so that is something I really need to work on for the next essential question.

Peter’s post really helped me a lot this week because it helped me see the flaws in just trying to write an engaging report and not also focusing on maintaining validity and reliability. As I start writing my paper, his post will help me remember that I need to find a balance between being engaging, but also being reliable.

In terms of helping in the learning of others, I commented on each of my classmates blogs, focusing on the parts of their blogs that had the biggest effect on my learning. I think we each interpreted the assignment a little differently this week, which helped provide the rest of the class with a variety of ideas to look at.

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What are the characteristics of an engaging Action Research Report?

Reading a research paper isn’t always an enjoyable activity. Often times, research papers are too formal and focus heavily on sharing as much data as possible, without any thought as to the readability of the paper. This week’s focus is to look at action research papers that are engaging to read, and what characteristics they all share. The two readings I focused on were “Teaching Science to High School Students Who Have Limited Formal Schooling” by Kathy Hermann, and “Assessment: A New Science Teacher’s Attempt to Use Assessment as a Form of Conversation” by Christopher O. Tracy. I also used one of the articles from my literature review, “Lecture-Free High School Biology Using and Audience Response System” by Larry J. Barnes.

To discuss what makes a paper engaging, it’s important to first know what “engaging” means. The Merriam-Webster (2015) definition of engaging is: very attractive or pleasing in a way that holds your attention. For me, if something engages me, I will enjoy reading it, but I will also understand what I’m reading significantly more than if I’m not engaged.

The first aspect that caught my attention for each of these papers were the titles. Each of the titles allows the reader to easily grasp the focus of each authors research. It is easy to tell from Tracy’s paper (2002) that his focus was on assessment, or that Barnes (2008) researched the effect of audience response systems on trying a lecture-free biology classroom. Many of the articles I used in my literature review had rather confusing titles, because once I started reading through the research, it was not at all what I expected. For example, “Conducting a Classroom Mini-Experiment Using an Audience Response System: Demonstrating the Isolation Effect” by Melinda J. Micheletto (2011), was not an easy title to decode. It was hard to tell just my reading the title if the research was about the “Isolation Effect”, or if it was focused on “Using an Audience Response System”. Once I took the time to read through the paper, I figured it out, but the title was definitely confusing to me.

Another characteristic that these three articles shared was the use of first person. I felt like I could relate to the author as they explained the research, and that connection made the papers easier to read. Other research papers feel cold and distance as I read through them, which prevents me from really getting into whatever it is that they are trying to present.

In the research paper by Tracy (2002), I was also engaged by his use of humor in his introduction section, as well as throughout the paper. “As I stepped back to look at my drawing, I began to laugh to. Stage two of my mitosis diagram looked very little like a cell reproducing and quite a lot like a human buttocks mooning our classroom as if the teaching gods were sending their weekly message to all new teachers that this teaching gig is not going to be easy.” (Tracy, 2002) This story made a connection with me because I had something similar happen to me while I was student teaching. Because I am able to relate to the author, it is easy for me to become engaged and thoroughly enjoy reading his paper.

Based on the readings for this week and a few other papers, my big three characteristics for an engaging action research report are  a straight-forward title, using first-person, and using humor to draw readers in. Reading these papers this week has changed my thoughts on how I should write my paper, and I will definitely think about making sure my writing is engaging as I start to write my research paper.


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

Engaging. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engaging

Hermann, K. (2002). Teaching Science to High School Students Who Have Limited Formal Schooling. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://gse.gmu.edu/research/lmtip/arp/ex

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).

Tracy, C. (2002). Assessment: A New Science Teacher’s Attempt to Use Assessment as a Form of Conversation. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://gse.gmu.edu/research/lmtip/arp/ex


Week 11 Data Collection Update

I concluded my data collection this week. I was able to observe one more session of using Poll Everywhere in class, and I gave students the Likert-survey one more time, and also had them do an open-ended survey using questions I had originally intended to use as focus group questions. I also ended up with another piece of data from the Poll Everywhere program, which is a participation log for each time I used the polls in my classes. I don’t quite know how to use this information yet, but it will be available as I work on analyzing my data.

I already went through the open-ended surveys and coded a few of the questions, and I will be spending more time this week delving a little deeper into the student responses to see what else I can get from them. I’ve already taken a look at the Likert survey results, and I’ve noticed that there is not much change from the beginning surveys to the final surveys, but I will examine them a bit more to see if they might still be able to give me some useful information. I am going to revisit some of the articles from my literature review to see how they analyzed data, and hopefully some of them will be helpful for interpreting small changes in Likert data.

I’m really looking forward to organizing my data and starting the write-up process. Even though I’m not going to be collecting anymore data for my research, I can tell that using Poll Everywhere is having a positive impact in my classes, so I will be continuing using it on a regular basis in my classes.

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Week 11 Reflection

This week really helped me feel more at ease about getting started writing up my research. I feel confident in the sections I’ve chosen to use for my paper and will probably start putting an outline together within the next few days. I finished data collection this week, which is a relief, but now comes the trickiest part of putting everything together.

I think my blog post this week was helpful for a few classmates based on the comments I received on my post, and my classmates helped in my learning by sharing their take on the format of a research paper. I really like that everyone has their own plan for how they are writing up their research because it is helping me see other aspects of the format I hadn’t thought about, but might be useful for me as well. I had not thought about having separate sections for a conclusion and was planning on including that in my discussion section, but that may be something I add, depending on how the discussion section ends up.

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Week 11 Essential Question: How will you format and disseminate your research?

As my project starts winding down, I need to start thinking about how I will share my research with those around me. One important thing I will keep in mind as I start the writing process is “If you write something early on, it is not set in stone – you can change it later, when you have a better grasp of what you want to say.” (Ryan, 2006, p.108) According to Merriam & Tisdell (2016), “There is no single correct way to write up any research study.” (p.288). There are, however, sections that are normally included in a research paper. Merriam & Tisdell (2016) list five sections that are typically included in research papers: “introduction and purpose of the research, background literature review, methodology of the study, presentation of findings, and discussion.” (p.288) I plan using these five sections, in the same order, for my research paper, and each section will start with a brief introduction. Ryan (2006) recommends that each section of the research paper have an introduction of some kind to give each section a specific purpose (p.106).

According to Babor, Stenius, Makela, Miovsky, & Gabrhelik (2008), you should “state the research question early and clearly” (p.91). The introduction of my paper will include a brief description of the study, the participants that were involved, and the question that provided the basis for my research. The section following my introduction will be the literature review that was conducted before I started data collection.

One of the larger sections of the paper will be the methodology section. “The methodology section includes, at a minimum, how the sample was selected, how data were collected and analyzed, and what measures were taken to ensure validity and reliability.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.277) In this section, I will describe the participant sample in detail and share my methods of data collection and analysis. This section will be one of the more detailed sections, because “it is not enough simply to state that you use focus group interviews and a post-structuralist text analysis, you should describe how and why you use them.” (Babor, et al, 2008, p.92) I need to explain in detail how I collected my data, and why I chose to collect it in that manner. Explaining the data collection methods thoroughly is also important for ensuring validity and reliability in the research.  “For the interpretation and transparency of your reasoning it is crucial to describe how the data were produced and collected and how these conditions have influenced the data.” (Babor, et al, 2008, p.93)

Another important aspect of the methodology section is the description of the relationship between the researcher and the participants. “One should be very clear about ones “position in the field”: the relationship between the researcher and the researched” (Pratt, 2009, p.859) An important aspect of my research is that I did not notify students I was conducting research. The explanation for not notifying students will also be a part of the methodology section of my paper.

After the methodology has been thoroughly explained, I will move on to the section on presenting my findings. “The most common way findings are presented in a qualitative report is to organize them according to the categories, themes, or theory derived from the data analysis.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.278). However, presenting data to the reader is not as easy as simply using data tables. Pratt (2009) suggests putting some of the data in the body of the paper to prevent readers from having to constantly switch back and forth between data tables and text (p.857).

The last section of the research paper will be the discussion. A possible structure for the discussion section is to repeat the research question and purpose of the study, and use one sentence to describe the main outcome of the study (Babor, et al, 2008, p.94). I consider the discussion section as a conclusion to the research paper. I will discuss what impact the results of my study could have on other science classes, as well as extending my results to other subject areas. The discussion can “also contain a consideration of the limitations of your study.” (Babor, et al, 2008, p.94) I will discuss any problems I encountered and changes I would make for future continuations of the study. One possible way to end the discussion is by “giving recommendations for further research that will improve knowledge about the topic you have studied.” (Babor, et al, 2008, p.94)

Once I have finished my research paper and am happy with the final result, I will share my paper with my classmates and also on Twitter. If I decide I want to try and get my research published, I would be interested in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Chemical Education, or possibly another science education journal.


Babor, T., Stenius, K., Makela, K., Miovsky, M., & Gabrhelik, R. (2008). How to Write Publishable Qualitative Research. In Publishing addiction science: A guide for the perplexed (2nd ed., pp. 82-97). London: International Society of Addiction Journal Editors.

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

Pratt, M. (2009). From the Editors: For the Lack of a Boilerplate: Tips on Writing Up (and Reviewing) Qualitative Research. Academy of Management Journal, 52(5), 856-862. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from http://aom.org/uploadedFiles

Ryan, A.B. (2006). Methodology: Analysing qualitative data and writing up your findings. Researching and Writing your thesis: a guide for postgraduate students, 92-108.


Week 10 Data Collection Update

This week was a decent week for data collection. I observed classes on one day using Poll Everywhere while we took notes. I used a tally sheet to help me streamline my observations, and it helped a little bit, but I am still struggling to find a balance between recording observations and teaching. As data collection comes to a close, I think that my observation notes are not going to be as in depth as I originally intended. Overall, I feel like using Poll Everywhere is having an impact on engagement in class, but I don’t know how well my observations are going to support that.

This coming week is the last week for data collection, so there will be a lot more data that will be collected. I think students will have one more day in class that we will use Poll Everywhere, plus I will be giving them the same Likert survey that they took the first week of data collection. I lieu of having focus groups or individual interviews, I will be giving all my students an open-ended survey on what they think about using Poll Everywhere. I think these surveys will provide the most informative piece of data in my project.

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Week 10 Reflection

This week felt very rushed for me. Our Twitter sessions on Tuesday nights seem to be hit or miss for me, and this week was more of a miss. I followed along on questions, though I think I only answered one. I feel like I contribute more to the class through my blog post and commenting on others blogs. I was able to get my blog post done on Thursday night, which helped me feel a little less stressed out on Friday.

On my blog this week, I feel like I helped others in their learning based on the comments I received. Reading through my classmates blogs also helped me see other aspects of the question this week that I didn’t think of on my own, so that definitely contributed to my learning. I like that Tristan used the word “trustworthiness” in her post, because that helps narrow the whole essential question for this week down to one focus. I also noticed that we all seemed to agree that student confidentiality should be the main focus of our project with respect to ethics. I feel like when we all agree on something, it helps validate what we are all thinking.

This next week is my last week for data collection, and it is going to be a very busy week. I can’t believe how fast this class has gone by! On to week 11!

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What primary concerns exist in ethics, validity and reliability in AR? How are you managing these concerns (or how will you) within your study?

According to Merriam & Tisdell (2016), “All research is concerned with producing valid and reliable knowledge in an ethical manner.” (p.237).”To a large extent, the validity and reliability of a study depend on the ethics of the investigator.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 260). The main aspects of qualitative research that are likely to deal with ethics are data collection and the presentation of findings (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). In education research, I see student privacy as the main ethical issue, and it is important to maintain students’ privacy when sharing data and reporting findings.

In qualitative research, validity refers to the methods of measurement and whether or not they are actually measuring what was intended, and reliability refers to the ability of the research data to be replicated by another researcher (Golafshani, 2003). “One of the key factors affecting validity and reliability is error.” (Brink, 1993, p.35) According to Brink (1993), there are four possible sources of error in research:

  1. The researcher
  2. The participants
  3. The situation
  4. The data collection methods or analysis

“What makes experimental studies scientific or rigorous or trustworthy is the researcher’s careful design of the study…” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.238) Therefore, the researcher can limit error on their part by taking care in how the study is designed and implemented.

In terms of participant error, responses that are given in interview or on surveys may affect the validity or reliability of the research. “The truth of responses is a key concern when data are obtained through questionnaires and interviews.”(Brink, 1993, p. 36)

The situations in which data are collected can also have an impact on the validity and reliability of the findings because “individuals may behave differently under differing social circumstances…” (Brink, 1993, p.36) Participants may give different responses in a group setting versus an individual interview with only the researcher present, so using a variety of settings involving the same participants can help account for these differences.

In terms of data collection and analysis, researchers need to “…present their methods clearly.” (Brink, 1993, p.37) In order for the research to be reliable, another person should be able to follow the research method and reach a similar conclusion. Another issue that can arise in data collection and analysis is participant selection. “To avoid inaccurate or insufficient data, the researcher must use his/her judgement based up) on the best available evidence to choose subjects who know enough, can recall enough, and are able to responde precisely to questions asked.” (Brink, 1993, p.37)

In my study, the main method I plan on using to manage any error is methods triangulation. Methods triangulation uses different data collection methods to check the consistency of findings. (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006) My study has three types of data that are being collected: observation notes, Likert-survey data, and an open-ended survey. I will compare the results obtained through each of these, and hopefully that will confirm that my study is valid and reliable. In regards to ethics, student privacy will be maintained at all times, as all data that is collected is anonymous and does not invade the privacy of any student involved in the study.


Brink, H. (1993). VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH. Curationis, 16(2), 35-38. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.curationis.org.za/index.php/curationis/article/view/1396/1350

Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006, July 1). Triangulation. Retrieved November 4, 2015 from http://www.qualres.org/HomeTria-3692.html

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

Nahid Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 597-607. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-4/golafshani.pdf


Week 9 Reflection

I feel like this week I learned a lot about myself and how I teach. This whole process has made me a lot more reflective about how I teach, and I’m starting to see some areas where I could really improve. I enjoyed reading everyone’s interpretations of the question this week and I think all of the posts will be helpful as I start working on my data analysis. I think I understand a lot more about how coding works, and that was a huge unknown for me coming into this week.

I think I contributed to the learning of others with my post, and I hope that others find it helpful. Only one person commented on my post this week, so I don’t know if it was as helpful as some of the others, but that also gives me something to think about for next week’s post.

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