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Teachers as research instruments: a “confessional tale” about a longitudinal study

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posted on 2008-08-05, 14:52 authored by Malcolm Welch, David Barlex
The authors have recently concluded the data collection phase of a three-year intervention study that has tracked one class of elementary pupils learning to make design decisions in a design & technology education classroom. The research design stated that in-depth data would be collected from a purposefully sampled group of four pupils (two boys and two girls) and also from the classroom teacher. However, during the second year of the study the authors encountered several serious problems with the intervention, which in turn led to a data quality problem. This paper, which offers a “confessional tale”, is in four parts. First, it describes the research design of the study, which was intended to begin the process of developing a theoretical model for learning to design. Second, the paper uses excerpts from transcripts to illustrate how the nature of teacher-pupil interactions (a) enabled the success of the research design in Year 1, and (b) led to data quality problems in Year 2. Part three indicates the lessons learned and describes the researchers’ response to the problems encountered in Year 2. The paper concludes with a cautionary note for researchers designing a longitudinal study.



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WELCH, M. and BARLEX, D., 2008. Teachers as research instruments: a “confessional tale” about a longitudinal study. IN: Norman, E.W.L. and Spendlove, D. (eds.). The Design and Technology Association International Research Conference, [Loughborough University, 2-4 July]. Wellesbourne : The Design and Technology Association


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