Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

By Richard Sagor | Go to book overview

9 Data Collection: Building a Valid
and Reliable Data Collection Plan
Chapters 7 and 8 introduced a variety of viable data collection techniques. However, employing proven techniques doesn't guarantee the quality of the findings that emerge. The reality is, action research simply isn't worth doing unless it is done well. Although that may sound like just an old refrain, it is far more. The imperative for maintaining high standards of quality is a truth learned and sometimes painfully relearned by teacher researchers. There are three fundamental reasons why you as a teacher researcher should hold yourself to the highest quality standards possible:
1. Your obligation to students
2. The need for personal and collective efficacy
3. The need to add to the professional knowledge base

The first reason, your obligation to students, rests on the premise that the education of the community's young is a sacred trust placed upon you as a educator. Therefore, the decisions you make on behalf of students are actions of no small consequence. No one, least of all teachers, would wish to see students victimized by malpractice. When you make teaching decisions on the basis of sloppy research, you place your students at risk.

A second reason to hold your action research to the highest standards of quality is that understanding your influence on educational outcomes can significantly enhance your personal and collective feelings of efficacy. However, before you can take credit for the success reflected in your data, the quality of that data must withstand the scrutiny of the world's most critical jury—your own skeptical mind. Ultimately, if you doubt your own conclusions regarding the contribution you have made

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