Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Educational research : competencies for analysis and applications (2): Data analysis & interpretation

Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2006). Educational research : competencies for analysis and applications (8th Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Chapter 18. Qualitative research: Data analysis and interpretation (p. 467)

Data analysis: an attempt by the researcher to summarize collected data in a dependable and accurate manner (summarizing what's in the data)

Data interpretation: an attempt by the researcher to find meaning in the data and to answer the "So what?" question in terms of the implications of the study's findings (making sense of/ finding meaning in that data)

1. Data analysis during data collection: gathering data, examining data, comparing prior data to newer data, writing up field notes before going back to the research site, and making plans to gather new data. Two questions that guide qualitative work and reflections (Anderson et al., 1994, p. 155):
  • 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
2. Data analysis after data collection - steps (p. 469)
  • Reading/memoing: becoming familiar with the data and identifying potential themes in it
  • Describing: examining the data in depth to provide detailed descriptions of the setting, participants, and activity (context)
  • Classifying: categorizing and coding pieces of data and grouping them into themes
3. Data analysis strategies (p. 471)
  • Identifying themes
  • Coding qualitative data: the process of categorically marking or referencing units of text with codes and labels as a way to indicate patterns and meaning
  • Asking key questions: "who is centrally involved?" "What major activities, events, or issues are relevant to the problem?" and so on
  • Organizational review: helping the researcher understand the school or other organization as the larger setting. A review should focus on the following features of an organization: vision and mission, goals and objectives, structure of the organization, operation, and problems, issues and concerns
  • Concept mapping: visualizes the major influences that have affected th study and to create a visual display that allows for the identification of consistencies and inconsistencies tha may exist between disparate groups
  • Analyzing antecedents and consequences: map the antecedents (causes) and consequences (effects) that have emerged throughout the study
  • Displaying findings: using matrixes, charts, concept maps, graphs and figures to encapsulate the findings of a study
  • Stating what's missing: reflect on the pieces of the puzzle that are still missing at the conclusion of the study and to identify any questions for which answers have not been provided
4. Data interpretation techniques (p. 479)
  • Extend the analysis
  • Seek the advice of "critical" friends
  • Contextualize findings in the literature
  • Turn to theory
  • Know when to say "when"

Anderson, G. L., Herr, K., & Nihlen, A. S. (1994). Studying your own school: An educator's guide to qualitative practitioner research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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