Choosing the Right Methods of Data Collection

What kinds of data can I (and should I) collect? 

by Colleen M. Kuusinen, Assistant Director for SoTL


If the first question you're asking yourself is, "Should I use qualitative or quantitative methods?" you may be skipping some important questions. Check out our "Getting Started" page to review these types of research questions.

You have likely considered final, or summative, assessments (assignments) in your course: exams, papers, presentations or other final products that students typically produce towards the end of your course. These are fine sources of data--keep in mind, however, that these assignments may represent the synthesis of different skills and forms of knowledge beyond the scope of your SoTL study. Think about formative assessments that you can use to collect data on how and what students are learning as your study progresses:

If you have a more exploratory SoTL study, qualitative measures such as case studies, interviews, and focus groups tend to be more useful for these studies.

Once you've identified some methods you might want to try, remember to search the literature for other SoTL scholars who've used those methods. In addition, here are some resources when you're ready to dive deeper: