Step 2 and Step 3 Finding and Clarifying a Starting Point
The next two steps in the research process are related to identifying and describing a problem area for the action research project. Exercises 1 and 2 found in the back of the handbook provide some tools to help develop a research question.
Step 4 Collecting Data
There are four basic strategies to consider when collecting data and these include collecting existing evidence; observing and documenting situations; interviewing; and questionnaires. So that the reader has a sense of what these strategies entail, a short description follows.
1. Collecting existing evidence
Instructors have access to a variety of existing information which can be used as data. This material can provide evidence of past events relevant to a research question and can be collected in a portfolio. A portfolio is a purposeful file of everything that may seem relevant to an issue that can later be reviewed. Written evidence is useful in trying to establish a baseline of what has happened in the past and can be invaluable for comparing a new approach to a past approach. Some examples that can be used are: learner papers, exercises or notes, grades, staff minutes, research articles, correspondance, notices, progress reports, letters of complaint, lesson plans, attendance sheets, drop out rates, budget information, operational policies, safety procedures, accident reports, repair costs and expense claims. Examples of unwritten evidence are the appearance of a classroom or learning centre after the students have left, state of repair on equipment, cover designs of books, wear and tear on furniture or binding of books and photos of graffiti.
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