Discussion Thread: Sources of Evidence and Methods of Data Collection/Student Replies


Student Replies: 

Student 1: Gina Bolin:

Data Collection 1: Interviews

Although required as one of the data collection methods, interviews offer a way to dive deep into the individual perceptions and experiences of students who were enrolled in “University A’s” online orientation. It is also one of the best ways to fully understand the subjective nature of the “impact” orientation has on a student’s decision to persist with their education. Interviews also permit adaptability and flexibility to uncover additional themes not previously presented through conversation. Finally, personal interviews will allow exploration of how Tintos’s theory applies in the context of virtual learning environments; as this method in particular will provide detailed accounts of how orientation has provided academic preparedness, an online community, engagement, and created a sense of belonging. As advocated by Merriam and Tisdell (2016) participants selected through purposeful sampling will be given a 60-minute interview conducted through TEAMS video conferencing with a semi-structured interview. The questions will be rooted in the research objectives (RQs). 

Data Collection 2: Document Analysis

Through analyzing documents such as orientation materials, student performance, and completion data; the study can asses how orientation is currently designed to meet students’ needs. Document analysis provides an objective benchmark to comparatively study current practices to research-informed “best practices” and Tintos theoretical framework, identifying any potential gaps. Which will inform and guide areas of improvement. Finally, through assessing orientation intended outcomes, this method is essential in deciphering if aspects like content, structure, and delivery of the curriculum are truly impactful as realized through the student’s perception and lived experiences (Bowen, 2009). Documents to be analyzed will be, orientation materials, communications, curriculum information, and completion data. 

Data Collection 3: Surveys & Questionnaires

Surveys and/or questionnaires balance individual interviews nicely because they allow quantifiable data that support (or possibly contradict) interpreted themes from conversations. Fink (2017) highlights, that surveys and/or questionnaires can be targeted to certain components of the orientation and efficiently gather larger information on trends/ patterns involving student satisfaction, perceived engagement, and the overall effectiveness of any given online orientation. The proposed survey/questionnaire will have open-ended questions sent to the larger online M.Ed. population to provide additional insights to help inform the conducted interviews and analysis of orientation documents. 


Bowen, G. A. (2009). Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), 27-40.

Fink, A. (2017). How to Conduct Surveys: A Step-by-Step Guide. Sage Publications.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). Jossey-Bass.   

Student 2: Olethia Thomas

Qualitative research involves investigating a research site(s) and obtaining authorization to explore them in a manner conducive to efficient data collection (Creswell & Poth, 2018). While there are forms of data that social scientists view as typical, various forms of qualitative data constantly surface in the literature. (Creswell, 2012; Merriam & Tisdell, 2015), but there are only 3 forms that will be used in this study. The 3 forms that will provide the data for this research are interviews, document analysis and review, and open response surveys.


This study will implement Brinkman and Kvale’s (2015) seven stages of inquiry model. This model provides a framework to conduct interviews in a way where the sequence is flexible. This method allows the researcher to modify the questions asked, the selected sites, and the situations being studied. The interview stages encompass a logical sequence of stages, such as thematizing the inquiry, designing the study, interviewing, transcribing the interview, analyzing the data, verifying the validity, establishing reliability, generalizability of the findings, and reporting the study (Creswell & Poth, 2018).

Document Analysis and Review

Document analysis is a structured process for assessing or appraising documents, encompassing both physical and digital materials (including computer-based and Internet-transmitted content). Similar to other qualitative research analytical techniques, document analysis entails scrutinizing and interpreting data to extract meaning, achieve comprehension, and cultivate empirical insights (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Bowen, 2009). Document analysis involves three key stages: skimming (surface-level examination), reading (in-depth scrutiny), and interpretation (Bowen, 2009). This research will use document review and analysis to extract qualitative data from the public records of elementary schools in the middle Georgia region that have programs that are designated as gifted.

Open Response Surveys

Open-ended surveys serve as a valuable instrument for collecting contextually-rich information (Chintakrindi et al., 2022). Asking open response questions allows the researcher to maintain an open mind and mitigate any bias that may arise during the questioning process (Tasker & Cisneroz, 2019). 


Bowen, A.A. (2009). Document analysis as a qualitative research method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), 27 – 40.  Links to an external site.

Brinkmann, S., & Kvale, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. (3. ed.) SAGE Publications.

Chintakrindi, S., Jordan, M., Littlepage, E., Wooley, S., Pinedo, C., Duran, M., & Olivant, K. (2022). Beyond the numbers: Qualitative analysis of open-ended responses for identifying student success indicators. Intersection: A Journal at the Intersection of Assessment and Learning, 3(1).

Corbin, J. & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Tasker, T. J., & Cisneroz, A. (2019). Open-ended questions in qualitative research: Keeping an open mind as researchers. Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 21(1-2), 119+.  Links to an external site.

Student Reply 3: Nicholas Hebert

For my phenomenological research study, “Exploring Special Education Teachers Self-Efficacy Teaching Phonemic Awareness to English Language Learners” I will be conducting a series of data collection approaches to ensure validity to my study. Those approaches consist of conducting interviews, along with having focus groups. I will also spend some time observing the classroom and approaches taken to teach phonological awareness to English Language Learners in their classroom. 

First, I will be conducting interviews because it allows me as a researcher to discover a greater understanding of the phenomenon that I am studying. Having participants answer a series of interview questions allows for the greater potential to explore possibly sensitive topics that they may not want to discuss in a group of participants (Stewart et al., 2008; Creswell & Poth, 2018).

Secondly, for my research study I plan to use focus groups to facilitate conversation and increase a better chance to learn more about their experiences. It allows for a less restrictive way to collect data from the participants in the study. Having a focus group would allow for an open discussion about teaching phonological awareness to English Language Learners (Stewart et al., 2008). For my study I wanted to be sure to have a collective view to facilitate the participants conversations in order to gather more information on their beliefs and experiences (Stewart et al., 2008); Creswell & Poth, 2018). It is important that when I am doing focus groups that moderating is considered to ensure that the conversations held in the focus group are providing a fruitful product from the conversation (Stewart et al., 2008; Creswell & Poth, 2018). 

Lastly, I will continue to work with my site that I will be conducting my study and request to observe teachers teaching phonological awareness to their English Language Learners. I want to be able to observe their body language and their ability to effectively teach their students; see if their answers to my interview questions are supported through their instruction (Creswell & Poth, 2018). When doing an observation, observation protocols are very important to use when recording information. The guide that Creswell & Poth (2018) gives is a great example to follow. Creswell & Poth, 2018). I wish to use this form of data collection because it allows me to truly see if the teacher has self-efficacy teaching the English Language Learners in their classroom. Having those field notes and little write-ups from my time spent observing the teacher will be able to further answer my central question and solve my problem that I wish to explore (Creswell & Poth, 2018). 

Discussion Thread: Sources of Evidence and Methods of Data Collection/Student Replies

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