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Chapter 6: Data Analysis and Interpretation
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Chapter 6: Data Analysis and Interpretation

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  1. Chapter 6: Data Analysis and Interpretation

  2. Data Analysis and Interpretation • After today’s activity you should be able to: • Define data analysis and data interpretation • Identify appropriate data analysis techniques for your action research project • Identify appropriate data interpretation techniques for your action research project

  3. Ongoing Analysis and Reflection • Action research provides teacher researchers with data that can be used formatively and summatively

  4. Reflection • Is your research question still answerable and worth answering? • Are your data collection techniques catching the kind of data you wanted and filtering out the data that you don’t?

  5. Avoid Premature Action • The action research process takes time. • Be wary of the lure of quick fix strategies and patient enough to avoid the pitfalls of basing actions on premature analysis.

  6. The Role of Analysis • Data analysis is an attempt by the teacher researcher to summarize the data that have been collected in a dependable, accurate, reliable, and correct manner. • It is the presentation of the findings in a manner that has an air of undeniability.

  7. The Role of Interpretation • Data interpretation is an attempt by the teacher researcher to find meaning in the data and to answer the question “So what?” • DA tries to report the outcomes or findings and DI focuses on the implications.

  8. Data Analysis Techniques • Identifying Themes • Work inductively and look for the themes that emerge from your data. • Are there patterns that emerge, events, responses, key phrases?

  9. Coding Surveys, Interviews, and Questionnaires • Coding is the process of trying to find patterns and meaning in data collected through the use of surveys, interviews and questionnaires.

  10. Coding Guidelines • Read through all of the data and attach working labels to blocks of text. • Cut and paste blocks of text onto 3x5 cards so that you have your data in a manageable form. • Group cards with similar labels. • Revisit piles to see if the label fits.

  11. Analyzing an Interview • Another common form of qualitative data that are analyzed by action researchers are interview data, most commonly in the form of a transcript from the audio tape of the interview. • Carefully read the transcript along with your notes from the interview in order to identify the broad themes and categories that emerge from the interview.

  12. Data Analysis Activity • Read the ESL interview transcript • Analyze the interview

  13. Asking Key Questions • Extend your understanding of the problems and context by asking questions such as: • Who is centrally involved? • Who has resources? • What major activities, events, or issues are relevant to the problem?

  14. Doing an Organizational Review • Focus on the following features of your school: • vision and mission • goals and objectives • structure • operation etc. • As you work through these issues you will extend your understanding of the school.

  15. Concept Mapping • Visualize the major influences that have affected your study. • For example, what were the perspectives of; • students? • parents? • teachers?

  16. Concept Map Example • See Figure 6-1, p.130 here

  17. Analyze Antecedents and Consequences • Consider mapping cause and effect relationships in order to better understand the major elements of your study. • A visual representation of the causal relationships that you believe exist (especially as it relates to what the literature suggests).

  18. Display Findings • Think display! • Consider the use of matrixes, charts, concept maps, graphs, figures--whatever works as a practical way to encapsulate the findings of your study.

  19. State What’s Missing • Flag for yourself (and the consumers of your research) what pieces of the puzzle you think are still missing. • Identify what questions remain for which you don’t have answers. • Be careful of moving beyond your data with unwarranted assertions.

  20. Data Analysis Techniques • See Research in Action Checklist 6-1, p.132 here

  21. Using Computer Software to Assist with Data Analysis • There are many computer software programs available to assist action researchers with the analysis of qualitative, narrative data. • The key word is “assist.”

  22. Deciding Whether or Not to Use Computer Software • Are you analyzing large amounts of data (for example, more than 500 pages of fieldnotes and transcripts)? • Are you adequately trained in the use of the computer software programs? • Do you have resources to purchase a program? • Do you need to be able to capture specific quotes from a large database?

  23. Popular Qualitative Analysis Software Packages • NVivo is designed for qualitative researchers who need to work complex data. • The Ethnograph is designed to help qualitative researchers work with text files. • HyperRESEARCH is a more advanced software package that allows qualitative researchers to work with text, graphics, audio, and video sources. • NUD*IST 6 (N6) is a powerful program for working with large amounts of data.

  24. Data Interpretation Techniques • Be prepared to demonstrate to others that in spite of the modest scope of your research that your work has implications that are/may be socially significant.

  25. Extend the Analysis • Extend the analysis of your study by raising questions about the study noting implications that might be drawn without actually drawing them. • This is a strategy for pointing the way rather than leading the way.

  26. Connect Findings with Personal Experience • Action research is very personal business. As the researcher you know the study better than anybody else. • Share your interpretations based on your intimate knowledge and understandings of schools and classrooms and teaching and learning.

  27. Seek the Advice of “Critical” Friends • If you have difficulty focusing an interpretive lens on your work, rely on your trusted colleagues to offer insights that you may have missed because of your closeness to the work. • But beware! The more opinions you seek the more you will receive!!

  28. Contextualize Findings in the Literature • Draw connections between your findings and those you uncovered in your review of current research literature. • This also provides an opportunity for sharing what the existing knowledge base has to offer along with your own unique contribution.

  29. Turn to Theory • Theory is “an analytical and interpretive framework that helps the researcher make sense of what’s going on in the social setting being studied.” • Theory can provide a rationale or sense of meaning to the work we do and can help us make sense of our data.

  30. Know When to Say “When”! • Finally, if you don’t feel comfortable with offering an interpretation, don’t do it. Be satisfied with suggesting what needs to be done next and use that as a starting point for the next action research cycle.

  31. Share Your Interpretations Wisely • Avoid being evangelical about your interpretations, connect them closely to your data and analysis, and share your newfound understandings with colleagues in an appropriate manner.

  32. DA&I Activity • How will you analyze each data source that you have indicated in your data collection plan? • How would you distinguish between data analysis and data interpretation?