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Drawing Conclusions and Implications

Conclusions and Implications

The most important parts of a research report are the descriptions, analyses, and interpretations of the data. What you do with the findings, i.e. the implications, are just as important.

The research needs to identify for the reader why and how the analyses and interpretations were made and the way key concepts in the analyses evolved. In addition, the researcher needs to "inform the reader of any unexpected findings or patterns that emerged from the data and report a range of evidence to support assertions or interpretations presented." (Stainback and Stainback, 1988, p. 80-81).

Showing, not telling about your findings, is the best way to let your reader know what you discovered. Quotes, vignettes, field notes, work samples and other data can be used to support interpretations and assertions. "The best way to show findings is to look for those critical incidents in your data, the "aha" or "oh no" moments, when you had a breakthrough in answering your research question. If it was a moment of vivid insight for you, it may well be a breakthrough for your audience." (Hubbard and Power, 1993. P. 113).

A conclusion section refocuses the purpose of the research, revealing a synopsis of what was found and leads into the implications of the findings. A conclusion may also include limitations of the study and future research needs.

Implications for Practice

The meanings you construct from your data help give you ideas about how to teach in a particular way. The statements you make about how you might teach are the implications for future teaching. Is Teacher Research Valid and Reliable? That is a question that has been asked many times by both traditional educational researchers and teacher-researchers. Validity in research is the degree to which a study is honest and true to its intent, its context, and its reporting. It is the result of your integrity as a teacher and as a researcher. It poses the question, "Does your data say what you say it says?" All of the research strategies you have been using- observing, writing, interviewing, documenting, analyzing-are ways to ensure validity." (MacLean & Mohr, 1999, p. 117).

Each school is different and the conditions are never the same from one class to the next. Teacher research derives its reliability from providing enough information to be able to make reasonable "comparisons" to other situations and contexts. Teacher researchers do not try to recreate the context of a study, but rather consider asking questions such as these:

  • How does the context affect the findings in the study?
  • What different variables are in the context?
  • If the multicultural mix of students was substituted for a more homogeneous one, how would that affect the findings?

MacLean & Mohr, p.120-121:

MacLean and Mohr outline a number of steps teacher-researchers can take to achieve validity in research. Chief among them are:

  • Make revisions of your research questions to ensure a focus on your current teaching and what your students are learning.
  • Frequent, consistent writing of your own observations will help you to discover what you think and to record what happens over a period of time.
  • Collect a broad database of information to provide grounding for the interpretations that emerge from the data.
  • Have other teacher-researchers examine and challenge your work.
  • Read literature from theoretical and methodological frameworks to seek different theories and methods that challenge and deepen your own.

Stainback and Stainback state that "qualitative researchers seldom claim that their reports are totally unbiased. "...they do try to let the reader know, to the best of their knowledge, what their perspectives and biases were and how they collected and analyzed their data, to allow the reader to judge for him or herself the potential usefulness of the findings." (1988, p.83-84).

See also:

MacLean, Marion S. & Mohr, Marian M. (1999). Teacher-Researchers at Work. Berkeley, CA: National Writing Project, p. 56-66.

Power, Brenda Miller (1996). "What to Do With What You've Written. Taking note: Improving Your Observational Notetaking. York, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Stainback, Susan and William (1988). "Conducting a Qualitative Research Study." Understanding and conducting qualitative research. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.