Project development strategy

An overview of the different steps in the research process.

Preparation

After exploring and sharing the core concepts of our project – knowledge productivity, corporate curriculum (work learning environment) and diversity – we adapted, translated, discussed and elaborated instruments for data gathering. We discussed and fine tuned each item of the questionnaires so that in the end we had five questionnaires we all agreed on and each serving a different purpose.

  1. a questionnaire to identify whether the work environment in work units of schools is considered a learning environment.
  2. an inventory of the elements within and in the context of the work unit (either within the school or beyond it) that evoke, stimulate, facilitate and enhance learning processes of teachers and unit/school managers.
  3. an instrument with open questions to find out what respondents think either promotes, or limits their own learning.
  4. a questionnaire about how schools/units deal with matters of diversity (what do they take into account and how?
  5. a questionnaire to get feedback about what respondents think about the questionnaires as instruments (are the items clear?, is it instructive to go through the process of filling out so many forms etc.)
When all was discussed and agreed upon we reached the phase of piloting the instruments.

Pilots

In each of the participating countries the project members tried out the instruments amongst groups of teachers. Besides having teachers as respondents we also asked experts in our own, or related fields to review the instruments and suggest revisions wherever necessary or desirable. Based on the gathered feedback we again went through all instruments and revised them where that enhanced the quality. When the instruments were ready we had of each instrument a version in each of the languages of the participating countries. Furthermore we had a web based version in English in which each of us will be able to feed in the data gathered in each of our countries.

Administering the instruments

Before administering the instruments it must be very clear which work unit is going to be investigated. It may be a school team, or a section. We focus on work units. A work unit is the group of staff members who feel they are part of the same team that works together in a direct way. Usually such a group does not exceed a size of about 15 people. It may be the section of teachers in German or mathematics, it may be the early years group, or it may be a more project group kind of unit. It does not matter which unit, as long as the respondents agree on their perspective. Different schools may be organized in different ways. Therefore, during the intake with the schools, the selection of work units is discussed. The procedure is as follows:

  • An intake is held in each school to gather some general contextual data about the school, work units within the school etc.
  • A brief introduction to the team is given by the consultant/researcher about the key concepts.
  • The team is asked to fill out the questionnaires. In order to guarantee 100% response the questionnaires are administered in a group session. The teams were asked to answer the questions in silence. Only informative questions were allowed and preferably answered individually.
  • The consultant feeds the answers into the English web version of the questionnaire.
  • The data are processed and analysed.
  • Feedback reports for each team are sent back to the consultants. These feedback reports give an overview of the learning conditions, the elements in the work situation that may contribute to the learning processes of staff and feedback on the team’s ways of dealing with issues of diversity.
  • Two sessions follow. One (The exploration) is devoted to understanding, clarifying and explaining the outcomes of the investigation; the second (the action) session is focused on the action planning on what needs to be dome in order to improve the situation.

Feedback reports

The feedback reports for the teams, consist of a general introduction on what the report is about and what it may be used for. Furthermore it includes two profiles: one about the extent to which the work environment is considered a learning environment and one giving an overview of the extent to which people observe elements in the work situation that may contribute to their learning processes. Beside these more quantitative data, prints of all open answers and about the ways in which the unit deals with issues of diversity are included.

Feedback sessions

The feedback sessions are organised as separate sessions, or as distinct parts of a longer session. The first part is focused on the meaning of the results. The feedback report includes guidelines on how to discuss the data and how to identify the things of interest. It is important to discuss the scores or the items that show either extreme levels, or on which different respondents have very spread perceptions or opinions. This phase of the feedback session is exploratory. The core questions are things like: why do we show the profiles we do; can we understand the dynamics that make us learn or that form an obstacle in our learning processes? In the outcomes of the data analysis, the level of the scores is not the most important aspect. What is far more important is the profile itself: why is it that some aspects score higher than others?

After a round in which such explanations are searched for, a second phase follows in which the focus is more on what to do next. Basically one might say that it is of interest to analyse and discuss particularly those aspects that are either very good (How can we maintain that level?), or those that need change or improvement (How can we change or improve such things?).

During the feedback sessions the contribution of each person and each perspective (teachers, managers, other staff) is encouraged. It is important to list the issues one would like to discuss and then plan them in the time frame one has available.

Over all analyses

After analysing all responses of all units included in the research over all analyses will be made. These analyses will be done for the following reasons:

  • To identify the quality of individual items of the instruments (item analysis)
  • To identify the quality of the instruments (analysis of internal consistency, reliability)
  • To derive relevant factors within the concepts that were inventoried (factor analysis)
  • To analyse the correlations between the identified concepts and factors (conceptual analysis, to further elaborate the theories behind the instruments)
  • To identify important trends or issues as found in the participating schools/units
  • To identify additional suggestions and insights as gathered with the open questions (further develop of the conceptual framework and its applications.

Last Modified: 08-05-2009