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Qualitative Analysis - Recess Activity

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Recess Activity Introduction :: Recess Activity :: Practical Research Reading Assignments

Task 1: State the Goals of the Work

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

What is Jim's objective?

  • To understand the children?
  • To become more informed?
  • To challenge the system?
  • To get money?

Is Jim's approach the right way to begin? (i.e. will he be biased?)

Task 1: Expert Feedback

Jim's immediate problem is a lack of knowledge about what the effects of recess on children, but eventually he hopes to persuade administrators to change their policies. He will either convince them or let the evidence change his own position. He feels that he can take an open-minded approach in his search, but that he has a strong hunch to follow. The district grant money will help him set up and conduct the research, but it will not change his salary and he is convinced that funding from the district will not bias the findings of the research.


Task 2: Gather Information

"I've thought some about this," said June, "since I read a section of an outside consultant's report in 1994 that raised questions about the district recess policy. It's not very long. I'd suggest that you take my copy and read it before we discuss any further. If I remember it right, it will also help to put the issue in the context of the KERA policy."

Jim said that he would read it, but that now he was heading to an appointment at a school downtown. On the way there, he thought things over. For one thing, he suspected that even after checking out sources, he would have to conduct his own study to have convincing evidence about the local situation.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

What research questions would provide him with the information he needs?

Task 2: Expert Feedback

Jim decides that the following are relevant questions at this point:

  • Does recess help children to learn better?
  • Do children who experience recess have more positive attitudes toward school?
  • Does recess enhance children's ability to concentrate?
  • Is the effect of having recess the same for children who come from different social backgrounds or who begin with different abilities?

Task 3: Locate Relevant Sources

Jim is willing to investigate this problem in some depth to obtain a definitive answer. He has access to a university library that is reasonably well equipped.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

Think of yourself trying to do a library search. What sources would you consult first, second and so forth?

Task 3: Expert Feedback

Jim decides to obtain information from two sources, this library and from original research. His library research will include these necessary milestones:

  • Any references cited in the consultant report.
  • The ERIC database accessed over the World Wide Web.
  • The on-line card catalogue for the university library.
  • Professional literature such as the Educational Communication and Technology Journal. (ETR&D) He decides to check them out in the order given above.

Information Gathering

In Unit 2 you had the experience of seeking sources about specfic topics in the online resources available. The sources shown here are the ones Jim located after doing this kind of research. For now, review the Recess Consultant Report and the article by Jarrett, Maxwell, and Dickerson that his literature search turned up entitled, "Impact of Recess on Classroom Behavior: Group Effects and Individual Differences."

Be prepared to summarize the findings from the source. Think ahead to a study that might answer the remaining questions that Jim was asking.

A week later at lunch, Jim was confronted with a question from June:

"Well, what did you find in the literature?"

Task: Do the Following:

  • Summarize the findings from the literature reviewed, the Consultant Report and the "Impact of Recess..." Article from Olga Jarrett.
  • What are the main findings?
  • Do any findings conflict?
  • What are your reactions?

Task 4: Expert Feedback

The Main Points for the Consultant Report:

  • The Kentucky Educational Reform Act (KERA) has far reaching effects, which include adding pressure to the roles of teachers and administrators
  • The lack of recess has attracted adult attention, but not enough to change the district policy
  • KERA and the recess policy may be connected in some subtle ways, e.g. teachers now deriving income from after-school tutoring might be viewed unfavorably if their students were having recess (and teachers neglected to use this time for tutoring.)

*The main points of the article by Jarrett et al are given in the abstract and in the conclusions. There seems to be little or no conflict between the two sources. (Both are favorable toward having recess.)

Task 5: Generate Possible Solutions

There are several questions that Jim might choose to investigate, some of them listed at the end of the article by Jarret et al. Jim feels strongly that the attitudes of youngsters deserve attention, specifically whether having recess has an effect on children's attitudes toward school.

He recognizes that in order to carry out a study he should involve one or more teachers from the district in planning it. He located Mary Ann, a 4th grade teacher at Boone's Grove Elementary who is working on a master's degree, and explains his intent and the findings so far.

A week later, June, Jim and Mary Ann meet at the Boone's Grove Elementary School teacher's lounge to come up with ways to assess student attitudes.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

Briefly list several types of studies that could help answer their questions about children's attitudes toward school when recess is part of their curriculum. (Use brainstorming techniques to suggest at least 3 possible studies.)

Task 5: Expert Feedback

The three (Jim, June, and Mary Ann) came up with four options:

  • A survey questionnaire paper and pencil given to children asking their opinions.
  • An observational study where an observer on the playground could surreptitiously take notes on children's facial expressions as thy engaged in play.
  • A qualitative study where children would be asked to draw pictures of what they did during recess time and then be interviewed about what their pictures represent.
  • A study where a photographer would take pictures of children's playground activities, and then they would be interviewed to explain what they were doing at the time the picture was taken

Task 6: Specify the constraints

Before launching full scale into any one of these alternatives, Jim decided that he would be wise to think through the limitations on his time, the budget proposed to the district, etc.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

From what you can infer from his situation, what would be the most pressing constraints? (Consider also the requirements for validity of the experiment and its impact upon children.)

It will help to know that the maximum funding available for any teacher proposal is $1,000. Consider what the constraints on time, money and classroom disruption would be in your own school.

Task 6: Expert Feedback

Jim listed his constraints as follows. He had June and Mary Ann look over the list to ensure that he hadn't overlooked anything.

  • Time: can be done in one month or less, requiring no more than two hours per day of his and one other person's time, probably June's.
  • Money: no more than $ 1,000 of the district's budget would be available. (The maximum allowable in the grant competition.)
  • Validity:
    • Internal: Must be internally consistent and logical, with appropriate controls.
    • External: Must have applicability in real life settings in the classroom.
  • Effects upon children:
    • Must have minimal disruptive effects in the classroom in order to maintain cooperation from Mary Ann and other classroom teachers.
    • Must have no adverse effects upon children, involving no deception or invasion of privacy of the children's lives.

Task 7: Select a Solution

"Your constraints look reasonable and the study looks doable," said June. "The topic has enough interest to me that I'd work with you to get it done. It's likely that we could publish an article if we get enough solid conclusions."

"Then let's add that as a fifth constraint," added Jim, "that it must be done well enough to write up and publish."

"I think we've got what we need now to select or strategy," said June. "Let's apply our constraints to the possible solutions and select our research strategy."

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

Work individually or as a group to devise this strategy and please include:

  • A research design: what considerations will be used to get recess time for kids and ensure that the findings will be valid?
  • The logistics: how would you organize it or how you would carry it out?
  • The data analysis: what type of comparisons will you make?

Task 7: Expert Feedback

Darlene Maxwell Study: ( Click here to read the study )

Qualitative study including interviews, observations (and field notes) and children’s drawings.

  • Permission slips are obtained from parents.
  • Recess sessions were conducted, and researchers observed.
  • Students were interviewed.
  • Students drew pictures and wrote a brief description of what was going on.

“Constant comparative” method, meaning that findings emerge as the study proceeds.

There is a design of a qualitative study, and it is the manuscript by Darlene Maxwell and Olga Jarrett, entitled: “Are we forgetting the Children’s Needs? Recess through the Children’s Eyes.” It is the target study that you should compare against yours.

Task 8: Your Findings

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

Write your personal reactions to the following items.

  • The findings of the study
  • The correlation between your own study and the Maxwell & Jarrett studies.
You have now completed the qualitative analysis simulation.

Click here to watch a debrief of the Recess Simulation Activity.
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factpetersen. (2007, July 31). Qualitative Analysis - Recess Activity. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/education/research-for-the-classroom-teacher/unit-5/qualitative-analysis-recess-simulation.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License