Types of data for investigation and methods

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Types of data for investigation and methods

Data may be grouped into four main types based on methods for collection: observational, experimental, simulation, and derived. The type of research data you collect may affect the way you manage that data. For example, data that is hard or impossible to replace (e.g. the recording of an event at a specific time and place) requires extra backup procedures to reduce the risk of data loss. Or, if you will need to combine data points from different sources, you will need to follow best practices to prevent data corruption.

Diary types in education

A diary study is a research method used to collect qualitative data about user behaviors, activities, and experiences over time. In a diary study, data is self-reported by participants longitudinally — that is, over an extended period of time that can range from a few days to even a month or longer. During the defined reporting period, study participants are asked to keep a diary and log specific information about activities being studied. To help participants remember to fill in their diary, sometimes they are periodically prompted (for example, through a notification received daily or at select times during the day).

The context and time period in which data is collected for a diary study make them unlike other common user-research methods, such as surveys (which are designed to collect self-reported information about a user’s habits and experiences outside of the context of the scenarios being studied), or usability tests (which yield observational information about a specific moment or planned set of confined interactions in a lab setting). They are the “poor man’s field study”: they are unlikely to provide observations that are as rich or detailed as a true field study, but they can serve as a decent approximation.

When to Conduct a Diary Study

If you’re looking for a contextual understanding of user behaviors and experiences over time, it can be very difficult to appropriately create scenarios in a lab setting to gather these kind of insights. Diary studies are useful for understanding long-term behaviors such as:

  • Habits — What time of day do users engage with a product? If and how they choose to share content with others?

  • Usage scenarios — In what capacity do users engage with a product? What are their primary tasks? What are their workflows for completing longer-term tasks? (These scenarios can be used for user testing later in the process.)

  • Attitudes and motivations — What motivates people to perform specific tasks? How are users feeling and thinking?

  • Changes in behaviors and perceptions — How learnable is a system? How loyal are customers over time? How do they perceive a brand after engaging with the corresponding organization?

  • Customer journeys — What is the typical customer journey and cross-channel user experience as customers interact with your organization using different devices and channels such as, email, phone, websites, mobile applications, kiosks, social media, and online chat? What is the cumulative effect of multiple service touchpoints?

Lesson observation

Numerous studies over recent years have shown that high-level and consistent performance from teachers in the classroom is central to improving outcomes for learners. So, naturally the education world has begun to examine teacher effectiveness more closely and how it can be improved.One of the main ways that teachers get feedback on their practice, in order to develop and grow, is through mandatory lesson observations, whereby a headteacher or a member of SLT sits in on a lesson to observe the teacher. However, despite their widespread use in schools, there is a great deal of data that highlights how ineffective traditional lesson observations can be. 

One of the strongest datasets being the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, which confirms that teaching and learning do not improve unless teachers get high-quality feedback from impartial and authentic observations by consistent evaluators. But, according to a SmartBrief poll nearly 70% of teachers said that traditional observation processes do not give them the meaningful and actionable feedback they need to grow. And 62% of school leaders acknowledged that the evaluation systems in place at their schools are not effective in supporting their teachers development. 

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