Yakel to study qualitative data reuse to improve education results

Elizabeth Yakel

With surveys of student achievement in the United States showing declines in math, science and reading scores, quantitative data and learning analytics have been increasingly used to understand the factors that promote learning.

Expanding upon these practices, Professor and Associate Dean for Research Elizabeth Yakel is working with the U-M School of Education to examine how qualitative data can be best utilized to improve educational outcomes. She received a $439,859 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to research the special challenges of curating qualitative data. 

The research project will focus on the Teaching & Learning Exploratory (TLE), an archive of classroom “records of practice” that includes videos of classroom teaching, recordings of interviews with students, and work samples from students and teachers. 

TLE collections are used by educational researchers, instructors in teacher education programs, and other involved in the study and improvement of teaching. However, privacy concerns, the lack of shared professional norms for handling and working with qualitative data, the difficulties of referencing particular items, and varied metadata vocabularies can all hinder researchers and instructors from effectively utilizing the collections.

Yakel’s project will study academic researchers and teacher educators who use TLE video collections and will incorporate surveys, interviews and web analytics to examine the use of the digital education archive as well as data reuse of qualitative data. 

The research team will then use the findings to improve access to and reuse of TLE collections by incorporating changes to the curatorial process, developing more educational and instructional materials, and/or changing the website to increase access.

The results from this project could have positive implications for librarians, archivists, and digital curators, who would be able to gain a deeper understanding of the curation of qualitative data and how curation choices can affect data reuse. Educational researchers will also benefit from increased access to TLE. Teachers and other education professionals would also be able to receive more targeted support when using TLE for education purposes and when developing materials that utilize digital archives.

Posted October 23, 2014