I want to understand the world from your point of view. I want to know what you know in the way you know it. I want to understand the meaning of your experience, to walk in your shoes, to feel things as you feel them, to explain things as you explain them. Will you become my teacher and help me understand?
— James P. Spradley

The Power of the Qualitative Evidence.

Teacher questions, and the resulting summative data analysis tend to be more qualitative in nature since teacher questions seek to understand the process or the nature of a classroom phenomenon. This means that most data collection is done by survey, open-ended questions or by interview.

Teachers generally feel less comfortable analysing qualitative data.  Qualitative data take the form of words or images and don't lend themselves to the seemingly quick and easy construction of different charts, graphs and tables.

Ironically, qualitative data is often the most prevalent type of data collected in teacher research.  It is naturalistic and helps capture the complexity of what is occurring in the classroom setting.

Questions teachers can ask themselves when analysing qualitative data are as follows:

  • Why did I inquire in the first place?
  • What do I see as I inquired?
  • What do I notice about my data?
  • How would I describe these data to others?

Further exploration of the data can involve the extraction of important components in the qualitative data.  Categorising and sorting common themes and components in various groupings and configurations.  This process is called thematic analysis

Researchers can use the following questions to accomplish this task:

  • What is the most interesting about these data?
  • What are some things in this data that stand out from the rest?
  • How might different pieces of my data fit together?

To gain a rich and deep understanding, the analysis of qualitative data requires the same sort of playful activity described for quantitative data. The grouping and regrouping of data in different ways and different configurations to gain new and different insights.

Keeping in mind that qualitative evidence will often contextualise your findings. Context is important when teachers seek to understand the process or the nature of a classroom phenomenon. Learning, and the things that influence learning are complex. The more we can gain context the more powerful the evidence becomes.



Fichtman Dana, N. (2013). Digging Deeper into Action Research. California: Corwin

If you are looking to give your Teacher Inquiry Practices an injection of fresh energy- to elevate teacher inquiry impacts to a whole new level -  Give me a call to discuss how we can do just that.

I know it is only May. However, I am aware that there are only a finite number of days on which schools run their start of year Teacher Only Days. The earlier you book, the greater the chance you will get the date you require.

Tabitha Leonard