viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009

Further research

This is a reflection on the research project that I already developed on how the implementation of an inquiry-based learning unit about the systems of the human body can increase the level of autonomy awareness in a group of fourth grade students. I will focus on some recommendations for those who are interested in doing the second cycle of this study. My recommendations deal mainly with the data analysis process since this aspect turned out to be the most difficult one for me to deal with in the completion of my research project.

In many ways the data analysis was the most difficult step for me to carry out in this research project, as it is the area of action research that is the least well defined making the issue of how action research data should be analyzed a very challenging one for any teacher researcher (Winter, 1992). First of all, I would recommend any other teacher researcher who decides to work on a similar project not to separate the processes of data collection and data analysis the way I did, because, in my practice, this proved to be difficult and unnecessary. In my case, I began analysis only when I had collected all the data, leaving aside an essential feature of action research which is the flexibility that results from cycling back and forth from data collection to analysis to further data collection and so on (Somekh, 2006).

Another aspect related to data analysis that I would like to recommend to other teacher researchers is to take into account from the beginning, that once there has been some overall examination of the data, it is absolutely important to develop categories or codes to identify the broad trends that have emerged from making some kind of sense of the data collected more specifically (Cohen, 2005). I took too long to start coding or attempting to reduce the large amount of data that I had collected with the data collection instruments I used, such as tests, surveys, portfolios and field notes, to more manageable categories of concepts, themes or types which would have made it easier for me to later compare the data and build interpretations. My recommendation for other researchers is to assemble all the data that can illuminate the research question, skim the data considering any and all categories for sorting, and creating their categories whenever they see repetition or a pattern emerges, giving a name to each category until they complete a list of them.

The idea that data collection, action and analysis are interrelated and recycle into each other when doing action research summarizes my recommendations for those teacher researchers who are willing to carry out the second cycle of this action research project. It is difficult as well as unnecessary to separate the process of data collection and analysis in an action research project like the one I already developed.

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