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You&will&need&to&draw&conclusions&from&the&knowledge&you&have&gained&from&carrying&out&your& project.&&This&requires&a&thorough,&cri,cal&evalua,on&of&what&your&analysis&of&results&truly&indicate& and&whether&these&conclusions&can&be&used&as&a&reliable&evidenceHbase&for&future&ac,on&(e.g.&to& further&‘rollHout’&your&interven,on&or&to&ini,ate&further& research).&A&central&judgement&to&be&made&here&will&be& to&consider&‘can&we&be&sure&that&there&has&been&a&real& change/improvement?’&


Guide&to&Qualita,ve&and&Quan,ta,ve&Analysis


natural&or&random&varia,on&that&occurs&when&measuring&things&which&are&subject&to&‘human& factors’?&


Consider&the&‘before&and&a\er’&results&shown&as&two& parallel&barHcharts,&to&the&le\.&It&is&clear&that&there&has& been&a&shi\&in&the&modal&average&from&‘2’&to&’4’,&but&the& range&(variability)&of&the&data&is&fairly&‘wide’&in&both& cases.&&Is&this&evidence&of&improvement&or&simply&


Consider the ‘before and after’ results shown as two parallel bar-charts, to the left. It is clear that there has been a shift in the modal average from ‘2’ to ’4’, but the range (variability) of the data is fairly ‘wide’ in both cases. Is this evidence of improvement or simply natural or random variation that occurs when measuring things which are subject to ‘human factors’?


Whilst the apparent change/improvement in the average score in Version 1 is encouraging, the variability in the data makes it difficult to be fully confident that this is a real effect of your project intervention rather than just a random fluctuation.


Whilst&the&apparent&change/improvement&in&the&average&score&in&Version&1&is&encouraging,&the& variability&in&the&data&makes&it&difficult&to&be&fully&confident&that&this&is&a&real&effect&of&your&project& interven,on&rather&than&just&a&random&fluctua,on.&&


Now consider Version 2 showing a different spread (or distribution) of data in the ‘After’ situation. Here, the mauve bars show a similar shift in modal average from ‘2’ to ‘4’, but this time the variability of data has been reduced and scores are more polarised around this ‘new’ average. This should increase our confidence in Version 2 as evidence of real (significant) change.


Being%confident%about%the%meaning%of%data% Being confident about the meaning of data


Developing a ‘feel’ for the significance of data - and for changes in data – is a very valuable critical thinking skill. In ‘pure research’ this is taken much further and researchers would be expected to carry out ‘statistical tests of significance’ to calculate the probability of data representing ‘real effects’ of changes made as part of the experiment. This would not be practical, and is not expected in Practitioner-Led Action Research which, after all, has to be an easily managed process if it is to be a readily used and effective means of driving quality improvement. However, the ability to evaluate data at an informed, but intuitive, level is – as mentioned above – a very useful skill for all professionals and teachers, in particular.


& &&


! ! !


Developing&a&‘feel’&for&the&significance&of&data&H&and&for&changes&in&data&–&is&a&very&valuable&cri,cal& thinking&skill.&&In&‘pure&research’&this&is&taken&much&further&and&researchers&would&be&expected&to& carry&out&‘sta,s,cal&tests&of&significance’&to&calculate&the&probability&of&data&represen,ng&‘real& effects’&of&changes&made&as&part&of&the&experiment.&&This&would&not&be&prac,cal,&and&is&not&expected& in&Prac,,onerHLed&Ac,on&Research&which,&a\er&all,&has&to&be&an&easily&managed&process&if&it&is&to&be& a&readily&used&and&effec,ve&means&of&driving&quality&improvement.&However,&the&ability&to&evaluate& data&at&an&informed,&but&intui,ve,&level&is&–&as&men,oned&above&–&a&very&useful&skill&for&all& professionals&and&teachers,&in&par,cular.&


Now&consider&Version&2&showing&a&different&spread& (or&distribu,on)&of&data&in&the&‘A\er’&situa,on.&& Here,&the&mauve&bars&show&a&similar&shi\&in&modal& average&from&‘2’&to&‘4’,&but&this&,me&the&variability& of&data&has&been&reduced&and&scores&are&more& polarised&around&this&‘new’&average.&&This&should& increase&our&confidence&in&Version&2&as&evidence&of& real&(significant)&change.&&&


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