Designing Your Study
How do I design my study?
by Colleen M. Kuusinen, Assistant Director for SoTL
Study design also answers the who, when, where and what of your SoTL study. Many of these answers depend on your research question, but here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- When does my study begin and end? It doesn't need to last all semester; a few classes may be all that is needed to meet your instructional goal, or perhaps just one afternoon of focus groups.
- Do I need to collect data from all students? Especially when you are interested in why students are struggling with a concept, idea, or skill, it might be more useful to target particular students for data collection.
- This brief interview with a SoTL scholar at the high school level is quite useful for showing how to choose participants selectively and for maximum benefit.
- How often, and at what points, is optimal to collect data for my research question? You must balance your need for data with respect for your students' time and energy. This is why many SoTL researchers collect and analyze assignments the students are already producing in the course. Also consider that collecting data on learning immediately after students have been taught tells a different story than collecting it a week, or even 8 weeks, later.
- How can I remain ethical in my study design? Great question! You're ready for the next step, considering Ethics and IRB in SoTL.
Here are examples of types of SoTL projects that span the range of short-term studies to long-term interventions. In addition, this brief slideshow goes over a few common study designs in SoTL work: