Methods:  Data Collection & Analysis

    I used High Tech High teacher-researcher Juli Ruff’s (2010) action research framework as a guide for my own research.  The proceeding table illustrates the general structure I followed in establishing a community that would collectively decide what elements make up good work and would then help each other in their production of it.  The class activities all students engaged in are in bold, and then below I describe the data I collected during each type activity and how I analyzed it.  My research documents two of the critique cycles my students experienced in the first four months of the school year. 


  In introducing the model critique strategy to students, I explained to them that this year we were going to look at exemplars of beautiful work and generate the criteria for what made it so, so that we could better understand how to craft our own pieces of beautiful work.  The criteria they generated became the rubric by which they measured their own work and each other’s.  Creating the criteria as a community of learners, with me acting as a facilitator, created the semblance of an executive boardroom coming up with a plan. 

          During the model critique process, when students analyzed an exemplar, they looked at a student’s or professional’s work who they did not know.  However, as the critique process evolved and after first drafts were completed, class members elected to participate in model critiques using their own work.  This became essential and especially helpful in modeling how to give helpful and specific feedback, a skill my students had very limited experience doing.

          Exit cards and surveys given to the whole class throughout the drafting, critique and revision process helped me gauge students’ perceptions about comfort level, model critique, peer critique and the quality of feedback they were receiving.  Because giving feedback was a novel practice to most of my students, this became an area in which I particularly wanted more information.  The exit cards and surveys also gave me information about what was and wasn’t working so that I could adapt my lesson plans to fit the needs of my students.  You can find examples of these in Appendices A through C.

          Student work was another form of data collection that I relied on heavily.  Of the thirty-four students in my humanities core, twelve returned the action research consent form.  I collected drafts of all twelve students work and after the second critique cycle I chose five focus students from a range of abilities to hone in on for my action research.  When I collected student work, I collected all drafts leading up to the final product.  Feedback from peer-critique sessions were written on these drafts and would give me a lens through which I could examine students’ thoughts, decisions and progress in creating good work.

Data Analysis

          Survey data was kept in a three ring binder and organized by student.  Closed-ended survey questions were tallied and stored on Excel spreadsheets.  For open-ended questions I coded for positive, negative and neutral responses and also recorded comments that struck me in my inquiry journal.  I asked that students include their names on all surveys so that I could track students’ thoughts and feelings over time about the relevancy of curriculum, the critique process, collaboration, and our class culture.

          Student work was also kept in the three ring binder.  I compared drafts of work following whole class and peer critique and referred to students exit cards and reflections to help me gain insight into changes that had been made.