Data collection and potential challenges with my research method

My approach to data collection is to capture student and teacher behavior and perceptions within and outside of the MinecraftEdu game world.  For students, I plan to observe their behavior and interactions during the game and analyze their reflective journals in the Wikispaces site; each student has a page that they will post screenshots of their work and post reflections about their learning.  Students will respond to reflection questions and prompts which will help me to analyze, compare, and summarize their writing.

For teachers, I plan to administer a pre and post survey about the strategies they used to manage students in the game.  I also hope to interview 1 or 2 teachers at the end of the experience to reflect on the experience.  Teachers will participate in a training next week to learn how to use the MinecraftEdu teacher tools and develop strategies for managing students behaviors inside and outside of the game.  During the training, I will discuss interview possibilities with them and then decide if and how that will work.  Another possibility is to have a daily or weekly debrief session with interested teachers to capture their reflections and observations.  I plan to discuss this at the teacher training, but I might have to offer it as an option and see if teachers decide during the experience that it would be helpful.

Since teachers will also be in the game, my observations of game play will include both students and their respective teachers.  A key component of my observations will be to save a record of the game chat each day to analyze the teacher strategies used through the in-game chat as well as student responses in the chat.

I anticipate that my greatest challenge will be to keep track of individuals (students and/or teachers) in the game; while I am able to find each player easily, observing them in multiple places will be chaotic.  There are five teachers with a total of 166 students currently registered to participate in the Givercraft experience.  Two teachers have multiple class periods in the game at various times, so I could potentially just observe the different classes for those teachers.

Observing student behavior while they use the chat is another challenge of observation since interaction in the chat tool is open to all players currently logged in but not necessarily in the same area within the game world.  Other challenges are more logistical but I would just need to figure out where to best spend my time observing (with the same class, in one area, etc.).

Some of these challenges include:

  • Some classes are in the game everyday, others are in the game longer but fewer days of the week.  I need to decide if I will observe the same classes or any student in the game.
  • The classes are in the game at the earliest 9:00 am and the last class ends at 3:30 pm; finding a consistent time might not be relevant but this will be a long period of data collection.  This means a lot of data and I need to decide if I will limit the observation time in the game.
  • From the previous Givercraft experience, I don’t know if students will write their reflection posts at the end of each gaming session (this would be ideal), or if they collect screenshots and write at the end of the week when each scenario is over.  I will get a better sense of this at the teacher training next week.

4 thoughts on “Data collection and potential challenges with my research method

  1. It seems like you potentially could have a lot of data to sort through. Could you get teachers to share a success, challenge, and surprise with you once a week? I feel like that might be easier to get from your teachers instead of an interviewed de brief once a week. (You will know your teachers, but this might be an option for those who are more pressed for time.)

    I think that you also need to have a very clear idea as to what types of behaviors you are looking for in both the students and teachers. It might be a good idea to come up with several clear categories before the study starts. With these categories you could easily count how often a certain type of behavior (teacher or student) occurred.

    It sounds good so far. I can wait to hear your results!

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  2. Wow! I think this is a great project! However, I feel overwhelmed for you on the data collection part. If I were you I would just do whatever I thought would make the process easier. If it is choosing any student in the game instead of the same class, I would do that. You are going to have a lot of data (which is wonderful) but you need to make it simple for you to keep track of. You have some great ideas though! I can tell you have put a great amount of time into this project already!

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    1. yes! I’m going back to my initial research problem and I think I want to observe teachers, not students; there are only five teachers and they will rarely be in the game together so i think it will work…

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