Essential Question(s): What is my initial data telling me? What revisions in my data collection plan do I need to make?

Aleta May

Response Blog (due 10-31-14)

Posted: 11-2-14

What is my initial data telling me? What revisions in my data collection plan do I need to make?

Post your Raw Data and Results for peer feedback—(This will come next week.)

I used an app called Psych Tools to collect data for a one-hour session last week, then I briefly captured data on another student. On another day I had intended to collect data, the teacher(s) had started signing kids up for their own google accounts so they could use google docs to write about what they are reading in various classes; so when they ran into overtime, I made plans to observe more this coming week.

Psych Tools is new to me, so I learned as I went. This is a mobile app that can be downloaded to a phone or the iPad. I am using my iPad, complete with my wireless keyboard. I selected interval recording. After having put students’ first names and grade level into the student list, I could click on a student, select on/off task behavior, the type of recording and start tracking behavior. Every 15 seconds, I clicked whether the student was on task or off task. As I selected new students, I noticed I could simultaneously select actively engaged or passively engaged. There is a notebook feature within the program. So I tried pausing the timed intervals, clicking on the notebook, where I took notes.  For me, using a wireless keyboard allows me to type like normal, and I can quickly take objective notes to describe what the behavior actually looks like—out of seat, but talking to another student about what they read; out of seat, using beanbag chair to swat another student! What!! Pause!

I can generate reports from this app. I have not tried that yet. Next week, I will have collected more data, so analyzing it in reports will be more useful. Another feature is that I can choose to track a peer’s behavior every so many intervals; such as, every other interval, every third interval, up to every fifth interval. Since I was observing two students for 10 minutes each, I chose every fifth interval to track whether the peer was on-task while my target student was off task, and vise-versa.

There are other observation tracking features, like Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC), but for my purposes I just want to watch and note what engagement looks like, and study behavior to determine what may help them be more motivated (such as sharing notes from a mutual book they read).

As for any classroom researcher, I ask myself, “So what?” “What will this large amount of data be used for?” So I looked up on-task/off-task behavior research for reading. In one article, the focus is on keeping students with emotional behavioral disorders (EBC) focused (leading to engagement and motivation). Besides turning to common core standards that speak to leading students to revisit reading, predict, make text-to-self, -text, -world connections, and more; teachers can use data to measure task engagement, “reinforcing consequences for time on task” (Vostal and Lee, 2011, 2). Further, the teacher uses these reinforcers to build behavioral persistence; in my research, this would translate to reading on task for increased time, and from passively engaged to actively engaged. A specific strategy for increasing reading persistence would be to intersperse easier reading passages within more difficult passages. The question asked in this article is “What is the effect of reading an easy paragraph on participants’ reading rate on the initial portion of a subsequent difficult paragraph?” (Vostal and Lee, 4). For me, I could use the results of data to justify using multiple resources to build reading engagement. For example, finding supplemental internet readings supported with pictures to draw the student into the more difficult classroom text.

Sometimes motivational interference affects students’ desire to engage in on-task behavior. Students usually have academic goals that are in conflict with social goals; this is referred to as goal conflict (Kilian, Hofer, and Kuhnle, 2013). Our initial response as educators is to divide these goals, calling off-task behavior inappropriate, when we could use the desire for students to pass notes to each other during a lesson to be part of the lesson. Peer influence is strong at school. School-related goals need to incorporate social goals (friendships).


Kilian, Hofer, and Kuhnle (2013). Conflicts between on-task and off-task behaviors in the classroom: The influences of parental monitoring, peer value orientations, strudents’ goals, and their value orientations. Social Psychology Education 16, 77-94.

Vostal, B. R. (2011). Behavioral momentum during a continuous reading task: An exploratory story. Journal of Behavioral Education, 20, 163-181.

2 thoughts on “Essential Question(s): What is my initial data telling me? What revisions in my data collection plan do I need to make?

  1. sroleff

    I checked out the Psych Tools app you mentioned in your blog. It seems like an excellent tool for observations. I especially like how it breaks the observations up into different intervals so you can gather multiple sets of data easily. I hope you are able to generate easy-to-use reports.
    I see from your reflection that you checked out Socrative. It’s a handy tool that allows kids to use their own devices in the classroom. There are a couple of irritations but overall, it’s a useful (and free) way to ask students questions. I’ve found that I need to have a few ipads or netbooks available for kids who don’t have their own device. I have also found that I need to make my first question something that requires them to enter their name. Without that, there’s no way of knowing who is answering the questions.


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