Reflection of Gleanings from Collecting and Interpreting Data

Aleta May

EDET636         10-26-14

Week 8 Reflection

My Research Proposal can be found at: https://aleta57.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/research-proposal-motivation-and-engagement-in-a-blended-learning-reading-environment/

When I read Sunshine’s post, I started thinking about my own observation data and why I am quantifying it as well as interpreting it. I wrote to her:

“How will you collect observation data? I’m curious, because I am familiar with some methods, but less familiar with others? Will your data be anecdotal where you watch body language and make notes every so many minutes, or keep records over time to look for changes? Including interaction with peers is important because sometimes a distracted peer creates distraction with the focus student, or the opposite, where the peer helps draw the focus student in by their actions.”

By reading through Sunshine’s comments, I could identify with the feeling of, “What do I with all that information? and, How can it be more focused?”  Here is what I said to her:

“I agree with you that it is easy to get overwhelmed with too much data. There seems to be a balance between keeping questions in an interview focused, yet broad enough to gather unexpected findings. I’m wondering whether it is best to pick one form of data as the center of the picture, while using surrounding information from other data to interpret. I think I may be doing that when I use observation—keeping that as the center.”

As I read Thomas’ post, I reflected more on my own need to narrow my focus. So I came to a similar conclusion as when I read and commented on Ali’s post. In one case, my data needs to be useful so that I may be convincing to others when I propose change or modification to one portion of the Read 180 rotation cycle in a balanced learning environment. In another case, my data collection needs to have a centralized focus (engagement/motivation) with others serving to interpret that focus data. I kept changing which to make as my center, but I keep landing on observations.

Here is what I wrote to Thomas:

“I think you’re right that a narrowed focus yields specific data. I am collecting information from whole class surveys, interviews of 6 students that I will also be observing three times each. I found questions in research that would pertain to my questions, with some modification. I’ll also analyze data from Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in the area of reading comprehension—but this will be kept global unless my observations lead me to focus on a specific part of comprehension. I am going after motivation/engagement within a blended learning environment for reading (Read 180).”

The issue I have is that in order to observe, I stop modeling for students and supporting their “independent” reading needs. Even with my being the support teacher, the lead teacher can only focus on small group instruction in this rotation model, because the student needs in that group are as great as the student needs in the independent reading group rotation. So I really need to take this observation and truly analyze it to make it valuable to our students, our teachers.”

One particular researcher who really speaks to engagement is Louise Rosenblatt. Even though her focus is on reading and literature, she focuses on a lived through experience, not just knowing about; and the transaction between the text and the reader. The text is not interpreted by its own merits, it is when the reader interacts with that text—thus engagement. Here is a chapter from a book written in 2005 that may help both of us with our research regarding how to engage students in learning: http://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/e00768/chapter5.pdf

Ali’s post led me to thinking along the same lines as that of Thomas’ and Sunshine’s posts; keep research focused and purposeful, while at the same time noticing the unexpected. Ali asked herself whether she was just adding another variable. Here is how I responded to her as I thought this through for her and myself:

“I ask myself that question often: Am I just adding another variable? It is difficult to keep these narrowed down for me. However, I think that gathering data is gathering information that can be interpreted through many different lenses. Sometimes I find something I was not looking for, but is still very significant.”

Ali said, “Did fluency, accuracy and expression improve or decrease?” This question, I believe, will lead the research into meaningful ‘Why’ questions.”  This week’s postings were helpful in that I peered into the window of others’ research, in turn creating a platform from which I can stand on my own research.

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