As you consider the construction of your data gathering instruments, use the following questions and explanations by Sagor (2011) to guide you.
When collecting and analyzing data, action researchers can do a great deal to ensure the validity and reliability of their findings by using a process called triangulation. The term triangulation refers to the use of multiple independent data sources to corroborate findings. The purpose and necessity of corroboration is the same for the action researcher as it is for the trial lawyer. A trial lawyer knows that to convince a jury of the accuracy of a legal theory, it helps to have more than one witness; the more individual witnesses whose testimony supports the theory, the more credible the theory becomes (Sagor, 2002, p. 16-18).
Educational action researchers usually have a wide variety of data sources available to them. Some of the most common data sources are the following:
You, as the researcher, will describe the instruments and data gathering techniques used. You must establish criteria for selecting the data as they relate to the scope of the problem.
A helpful tool for planning data collection and triangulation is a triangulation matrix—a simple grid that shows the various data sources that will be used to answer each research question. The matrix provides the action researcher with some assurance that the potential for bias (which is always present whenever a single source of data is used) won’t take on undue significance. Figure 2.3 illustrates how a completed triangulation matrix for a study on student editing might look.
Figure 2.3. Triangulation Matrix—Study on Student Editing
Issues to pay attention to when trying to answer research question
Data Source #1
Data Source #2
Data Source #3
What is the relationship between student enjoyment of writing and the quality of their editing?
Analysis of first, second, and final drafts
Comparison with work on previous assignments
In what ways will providing students with a copy of a scoring rubric impact the quality of their finished papers?
Contrast between revisions made in assignments without rubrics and ones with rubrics
Third-party assessments of finished products
To what extent are the finished papers different when students use peer editors?
Contrast between revisions made in assignments without peer editing and ones completed with peer editing
Third-party assessments of finished products
Adapted from: Guiding school improvement through action research. (Sagor, 2002, pp. 8-16).
Submit at least one of the data gathering instruments you have selected, or at least one of the instruments you have constructed along with an explanation. Please be sure to include your explanation for what you have chosen or designed – focus on how you see it connecting to your proposed project/research question. Attach the data-gathering instrument (surveys, pre tests, etc.) to the assignment submission.
Please also include a triangulation chart showing the ideas you have for the remainder of your data collection. You will need to develop the other tools for the final proposal as well, but for this assignment, you are submitting one to show your thinking and to get feedback about your ideas in the triangulation matrix. After you get instructor feedback on this, you can continue to develop your ideas and add them to your AR proposal.
Sagor, R. (2002). Guiding school improvement through action research. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
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