Action Research

This week’s reading from Burton & Bartlet (2005) focused on quantitative and qualitative research methods. I found it to be a helpful review of my last three years of grad school. In particular, the authors discussed the importance of establishing reliable and valid methods of study and the use of triangulation.

Study data is said to bee reliable if the results can be replicated by another researcher (Burton & Bartlet, 2005). Although these authors were focusing on the end results of the study, it is just as important to ensure that the testing instrument used in the study is also reliable. One method for determining reliability of the questions is called the test-retest method (Litwin, 1995). Using this method, respondents are asked the same question at two different points in time. If the answers are fairly consistent, the questions are said to be reliable.

Burton & Bartlet (2005) also discussed the importance of validity in the research data: does the study actually measure what its authors claimed? Again, the researcher is responsible for ensuring that his or her instrumentation is valid. To determine content validity, interview questions should be shown to reviewers who have some knowledge of the subject matter (Litwin, 1995). Additionally, cognitive interviews may be conducted with a sample group. Verbal probing techniques can be used to ensure that questions are free of ambiguity and that the answers given will actually provide the type of information required for this study (Willis, 1999).

Finally, the authors explained triangulation of study data (Burton & Bartlet, 2005). This is achieved by using multiple methods of data collection to further support the reliability and validity of the study (Berg, 2001). Ultimately, reliability, validity, and triangulation all support a study’s credibility. A study is said to be credible if the results of the study are believable from the point of view of the participants in the research (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Ideas for ILSP

Based on this week’s readings, it seems that we will be asked to conduct a study of some sort as part of our ILSPs. Some possible ideas:

  • Is the MyITLab software effective in supporting learning in CIS 120?
  • How does the efficacy of my “flipped” classroom compare to that of a more traditional lecture-based approach in CIS 181?

Both of these could easily be set up as quantitative studies using pretest and post-test data from the classes. The CIS 120 study would encompass the entire department, whereas the CIS 181 study would affect just my classes. Food for thought.


Berg, B. L. (2001). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (4th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Pearson.

Burton, D., & Bartlett, S. (2005). Practitioner research for teachers. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Lincoln, Y. S., Guba, E. G., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry: The paradigm revolution. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Litwin, M. S. (1995). How to measure survey reliability and validity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Willis, G. B. (1999). Cognitive interviewing: A “how to” guide. Retrieved from