Again, recall that the purpose of the Methods section is to describe the research study in enough detail so that any other researcher can repeat the study exactly. The purpose of the Methods of Data Collection portion is to describe the specific procedures and logistics used to collect data in the study, including when, how, where, and for how long the research study took place. The specifics of this section will depend on the type of data collected.
When administering a questionnaire, report the following:
When conducting interviews, report the following:
Recall that archival data consists of materials such as achievement test scores from student records and attendance records. If archival data was collected, report:
If the researchers will be observing behavior for data collection, report the following:
In some studies, particularly in pre-post test experimental designs, the instrument must be administered multiple times. If this is the case, for each time the instrument is administered, report on each instrument administration as detailed above. Also report on the length of time between administrations of the instrument. How long before the treatment was the pre-test administered? How long after the treatment was the post-test administered? Also, if there were any differences in logistics between the administration of the pre- and post-test, these must also be reported.
In experimental and quasi-experimental designs, the treatment must be clearly explained in great detail. A reader should be able to conduct your exact treatment based on the description given in the Methods of Data Collection and Appendix. Report the following in great detail in the Methods of Data Collection.
Recall that the control group needs to be identical to the treatment group in every way except that they do not receive the treatment. Therefore, the same information should be reported for the control group. What were they doing during the times when the treatment group was meeting?
For student projects, the specific objectives and methodology of each meeting in the treatment must be detailed. However, this information is oftentimes best placed in an Appendix. I recommend including the treatment scheme in an Appendix. Be sure to add a sentence in the Methods of Data Collection that this treatment scheme is presented in the Appendix.
If it is necessary to recruit research assistants, it is important that these are well trained and professional individuals. It would be a shame for a research study to fail because incompetent, inexperienced, unmotivated, or poorly trained research assistants messed up the data collection procedures. This is a potentially fatal source of error in a study that can easily be avoided by collecting the data yourself. I much prefer to be directly involved in all aspects of data collection to ensure that all procedures are performed correctly and with professionalism. I have had a number of situations where I allowed somebody else to collect data, and then had to discard the entire research study because I realized that poor data collection procedures had been used. Although it is more work to collect the data myself, I believe that using accurate research procedures is worth the extra time and effort.
If research assistants are necessary, it is very important to select competent individuals and train them thoroughly and effectively. In addition to effective training, a protocol should be developed that gives a word-for-word script that the research assistants should follow, as well as what the researchers should do. This helps to ensure that all research assistants are behaving similarly. The protocol should include:
The training should include:
In the Methods of Data Collection section, report the following for the research assistants:
At the end of a class session, the instructor gave directions for the questionnaires, including that the students should complete the questionnaire in good faith and return it to the course instructor within three weeks. Class representatives distributed the questionnaires to all of the students. Because students were receiving course credit for completing the questionnaires, they had to list their name and matriculation number on the completed questionnaire. To encourage students to complete the questionnaire honestly, the following procedures were used to assure students that their responses would never be linked to them personally. A solid line was drawn immediately below the area where they were to write their name and matriculation number with the words "Do not write your name below. The top section will be removed upon submission" written in capital letters. The instructor informed students that as soon as they submitted the questionnaire, their name and matriculation number would be cut off along the solid line so they would receive credit for completing the questionnaire, but they could not subsequently be linked to their responses.
All mathematics exams were individually administered by the researcher to the child. The researcher removed the children one-by-one from the classroom and took them into a quiet room where they could complete the exam undisturbed. The seven exams were administered on two separate days, typically within the same week. The more, less, addition, and subtraction exams were all administered on the first day while equivalence, comparison, and missing number exams were administered on the second day. Children completed three practice items for each exam. Students were given one point for each correct answer.
Participants in the treatment group attended a one-week workshop that covered the development of literacy skills and effective literacy instructional practices. After introductions on the first day, the pre-test was administered. Participants were instructed to complete the questionnaire based on their own understanding of how children learn to read. They were given 30 minutes to complete the pre-test. All participants finished within this time period. During the workshop, three literacy experts used discussion, lecture, video demonstrations, small group discussions, and practice teaching demonstrations to educate participants about new developments in the field of literacy. (See Appendix B for a detailed list of objectives, activities, and discussion points.) Participants met for eight hours for all five days. After the last educational session on the final day, participants were asked to complete the post-test questionnaire. Again, they were given 30 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Participants in the control group attended a workshop with a similar format, but the content was on teaching mathematics skills. The control group also completed the same pre- and post test, just as the treatment group.
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Copyright 2012, Katrina A. Korb, All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2012, Katrina A. Korb, All Rights Reserved