The data collection is essential for discovering the answer to my project proposal question. In knowing this, it is important for me to gather concise, relative information that will assist me in determining whether or not simulations are beneficial with students in elementary school. As I came up with my methodology, I discovered that using qualitative research would be the best approach to use. I decided to use observations of the students and interviews as my two main forms of gathering data. I then would finish off with a quick survey, that I feel will help me to gauge which simulations the students enjoyed the most and feel they would like to return to in the future.
Hoepfl (1997) discussed how qualitative research can be very time consuming and hard on the person giving the interview, dependent on emotional issues and the population that need to be interviewed. Even though it can be a lot of work, and stressful Hoepfl feels that using qualitative research can give you information that you may not be able to gain through surveys. (1997) I decided to do both in short quality bursts, with this in mind.
In using observation, I plan to focus on the following:
- Student engagement through body language
- Interaction with their peers while doing the simulation
- Their understanding of what they are doing while exploring the simulation
- Final expressions of like or dislike of the given simulation
These will be obtained by me while I am watching the students engage in the simulation. Then I can finish off with a quick group discussion if I have not obtained all of this information through my observations.
“…the qualitative research interview is a method which most research participants accept readily” (Cassell, & Symon, 2004, p. 21). A lot of data collection happens in this manner. As long as you are precise in questioning, focusing on exactly what data you would like to obtain, you can get some extremely helpful information. Then there is the thought of too much data. I could see where people can become overwhelmed with this idea. This is why I decided to focus my interviews to only a few questions:
- What do you think of science-based simulations so far?
- Do you think they are helpful in any way? If so, how?
- Do you think using simulations to introduce a lab experiment would be beneficial?
- How do you think teachers should use science-based simulations?
I feel that this will help me in better understanding their thoughts on using simulations, while we are in the middle of exploration. Then in the end, I can survey their thoughts on each simulation used.
Cassell, C., Symon, Gillian. (Eds.). (2004). Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in
Organizational Research. (pp. 11-22). London: SAGE Publications.
Hoepfl, M. C., (1997, Fall). Choosing Qualitative Research: A Primer for Technology
Education Researchers. 9 (1), Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v9n1/hoepfl.html