Research Strategy

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Overview[edit]

Vital commissioned a series of case studies, looking at the strategies that schools are using in relation to their digital technology provision. The case studies were carried out using a methodology designed by Peter Twining and Fiona Henry. Peter Twining then collaborated with colleagues in Australia to carry out a series of shorter Snapshot Studies, with a focus on strategies such as 1:1 and BYOD/BYOT.

The methodologies used in the Vital Case Studies and the Snapshot Studies are described below. In all cases the researchers customised the methodology to fit the context of the particular school they were working with. They were then asked to publish a brief report and submit all of their data for meta-analysis. These meta-analyses feed into our understanding of emerging trends and related advice on effective digital technology strategies.

Ethics[edit]

Ethics is a critical part of any research. BERA's Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research set out the minimum ethical standards that all educational researchers should adhere to.

The key point being that all participants should be fully informed about the nature of the research and given time to ensure that they wish to take part. All staff, pupils and other people involved in the research must give their informed consent to take part in the study (see below for consent forms), and must be aware that they can withdraw that consent at any time and without having to give a reason.

The Vital Case Study Methodology[edit]

This methodology was adapted from a previous project led by Peter Twining and assumes 3 or 4 days in each case study school over a period of a month (there needs to be a gap of 2 weeks between the first visits and the final ones). The Snapshot Study Methodology is similar, but assumes only one day in each school.

You can reuse or adapt the documents that are referred to below so long as you acknowledge their source by including the following copyright statement on each document you re-use:

Original version ©Twining and Henry 2012, available from http://edfutures.net/Research_Strategy under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license

Table 1 lists all of the documents available for use in each case study.
Table 2 gives an indication of the categories of participants needed for each case study.
Table 3 shows the suggested sequence of events/data collection.


Table 1 List of documents available to support the case studies[edit]
Core documents Data collection documents
Case study overview for researchers Adult key users - Questionnaire
Case study overview for participants Adult key users - Observation and debriefing
School invite letter Adult key users - interview
Adult key users - Portfolio (diary) instructions
Consent form (adult) Adult key users - Diary
Consent form (pupil) ICT Coordinator - Questionnaire
Photo permission form (adult) ICT Coordinator - Interview
Photo permission form (pupil) SLT - Questionnaire
SLT - Interview
Case study template Pupil key users - Portfolio instructions
Data analysis report template Pupil key users - Diary
Pupil key users - Focus group
Table 2 Participants needed for each case study[edit]
Participant Role Data collection
Researcher Arranges and carries out the case study
A school facilitator Acts as the main point of contact between the Researcher and the school. Helps with organisation of data collection within the school (e.g. ensuring diaries, portfolios, observations, interviews are organised)
SLT member To provide a senior leadership team perspective
  • Staff questionnaire
  • Follow up interview
ICT Coordinator / Network Manager To provide information about the digital technology infrastructure within the school and provide a technical/support perspective
  • ICT Coordinator Questionnaire
  • Staff questionnaire
  • Follow up interview
2 adult key users (usually teachers) To provide a teacher perspective and enable the researcher to collect data on teaching/learning
  • Staff questionnaire
  • Observation & Debriefing interview
  • Diary
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
4 pupil key users To provide a pupil perspective and enable the researcher to collect data on teaching/learning
  • Diary
  • Portfolio
  • Focus group

One person might fulfill more than one of the above roles. For example the ICT co-ordinator might be the school facilitator and/or a key user.

The consent forms shown below should be used for all participants as appropriate. It will be necessary to seek the schools assistance in obtaining the necessary permissions from pupils and their parents/guardians:

Written permission must be obtained to use any audio/photographs/videos – where people are identifiable in a photograph/video then their written permission to publish the image must be obtained. In the case of pupils both the pupil’s and parents’ permission must be obtained.

Table 3 The suggested sequence of events/data collection[edit]

The data collection involves a minimum of two (day long) visits to each school by the researcher. In many cases up to four visits will be necessary in order to obtain the necessary informed consent, explain the what the research involves, and collect all of the required data (e.g. carry out observations etc). There must be a gap of at least two weeks between the initial visit(s) and the final visit(s) in order to allow ‘key users’ to complete key parts of the process (diaries and portfolios). Schools should be de-briefed at the end of the case study.

The table below provides an indication of the order in which data should be collected, once the permissions detailed above are in place.

Item What When Why Document
1 Gain informed consents from all parties Start As part of a commitment to ethical research see previous section
2 ICT Coordinator questionnaire After Item 1 To get background information re. ICT resources, infrastructure, organization/management ICT Coordinator - Questionnaire
3 Staff questionnaire After Item 1 To get background info on the adult respondents and their initial perspectives on the initiative. Should be completed by all adult participants. Adult users - Questionnaire
4 ICT Coordinator interview After the researcher has reviewed the ICT Coordinator’s questionnaires (Items 2 & 3) To probe responses to ICT Coordinator questionnaire and develop richer picture of ICT strategy and implementation and associated issues ICT Coordinator - Interview
5 SLT interview After Item 3 To get the SLT perspective on the initiative SLT - Interview
6 Diary & Portfolio briefing - adult key users After item 1 To ensure the adult key users understand how to complete the diary (useage log) and portfolio Adult key users - Diary (useage log)
Adult key users - Portfolio instructions
7 Diary & Portfolio briefing - pupil key users After item 1 To ensure the pupil key users understand how to complete the diary (useage log) and portfolio Pupil key users - Diary (useage log)
Pupil key users - Portfolio instructions
8 All key users complete diaries (useage log) and portfolios After Items 6 & 7 To give a feel for the range of ways in which the initiative is being implemented and impacting on practice
9 Observation of adult key user 1 After Item 6 To get a rich picture of the implementation of the initiative Adult key users - Observation and debriefing
10 Debriefing interview with adult key user 1 Immediately after Item 9 To enrich understanding of observation and extend picture of the implementation of the initiative see Item 9
11 Observation of adult key user 2 After Item 6 To get a rich picture of the implementation of the initiative see Item 9
12 Debriefing interview with adult key user 2 Immediately after Item 11 To enrich understanding of observation and extend picture of the implementation of the initiative see Item 9
13 Review the key users's diaries and portfolios After Items 8, 10 and 12 To prepare questions for the follow up interviews/focus groups
14 Interview with adult key user 1 After Items 3 and 13 To clarify the diary and ensure understanding of the content of the Portfolio. To probe issues, solutions, etc. related to the initiative Adult key users - interview
15 Interview with adult key user 2 After Items 3 and 13 To clarify the diary and ensure understanding of the content of the Portfolio. To probe issues, solutions, etc. related to the initiative See Item 14
16 Focus group with pupil key users After Item 13 To clarify the diaries and ensure understanding of the content of the Portfolio. To probe issues, solutions, etc. related to the initiative

Pupil key users - Focus group

The (Australian) Snapshot Studies Methodology[edit]

These studies used a cut down version of the Vital Case Study methodology, which involved the researchers spending one day collecting data in schools. The data collection used the same questionnaires, observation techniques, interview schedules and pupil portfolios as the Vital Case Studies.

An enhancement to the methodology was the inclusion of a parent as a participant in these studies.

Overall the Snapshot Study data collection consisted of:

Participant Role Data collection
Researchers Arrange and carry out the Snapshot Study
A school facilitator Acts as the main point of contact between the Researchers and the school. Helps with organisation of data collection within the school (e.g. ensuring questionnaires are completed, and portfolios, observations, and interviews are organised)
SLT member To provide a senior leadership team perspective
  • SLT (Staff) questionnaire
  • Follow up interview
ICT Coordinator / Network Manager To provide information about the digital technology infrastructure within the school and provide a technical/support perspective
  • ICT Coordinator Questionnaire (incorporating Staff questionnaire)
  • Follow up interview
1 Teacher To provide a teacher perspective and enable the researcher to collect data on teaching/learning
  • Staff questionnaire
  • Observation
  • Interview
4 students To provide a student perspective and enable the researcher to collect data on teaching/learning
  • Portfolio
  • Focus group
1 parent To provide a parental perspective
  • Parent questionnaire (very similar to staff questionnaire)
  • Interview