Overview of the data collection procedures Piloting of survey questionnaires

In document What makes a successful transition from primary to secondary school? (Page 112-114)

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Appendix 9: Overview of the data collection procedures Piloting of survey questionnaires

The postal questionnaires and the interview schedules for the case studies were drawn up by the EPPE Research Team, reviewed, and agreed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). Both the questionnaires for children and parents/guardians were piloted before the initial postage to the families. A total of 15 families were targeted and 11 sets of questionnaires were returned. Issues of clarity, timing, layout were addressed based on the responses.

The LA interviews

All six interviews with the local authority officials were carried out during March and April 2007. All participants gave their time generously. An informed consent was obtained and a transcript of the interview was shared and agreed as a true record with all involved.

The case studies

The interview schedules for the case studies were piloted with one child, one primary teacher and one ex-secondary teacher. A brief report of the child interview was made with the comment that two questions were difficult for the child to answer because he did not understand them. From the piloting the researcher in charge of the interviews developed sub-questions which were to be used as prompts, and in the case of the child interview, sought to clarify the problematic questions.

Once a child’s name was drawn to participate in the study a set of procedures was followed in order to conduct the interviews. The child and parent were contacted to get their agreement to be involved and to be interviewed. The child and parent chose the site for the interview, either at home or in school. Letters to both child and parent followed which confirmed the arrangements. The primary and secondary schools were then contacted to find out who was in charge of transition and to arrange an interview time with that person. Letters were sent to the teachers involved confirming the arrangements and to the secondary school Head teacher. All teacher interviews took place in school as organised by the teacher except for two primary teacher interviews that were conducted over the phone, at their request. All interviews were carried out by the same researcher who has enhanced police clearance to work in schools. The interviews were audio-recorded, including the phone interviews, with the permission of each interviewee and signed consent forms were collected from the children.

Data collecting - Timetable

A total of 34 interviews were carried out between 25 May and 7 July 2007. Twelve pupils, 10 primary and 12 secondary teachers were interviewed.

Due to unavoidable delays in the implementation of the data collecting process the timing for the interviews was somewhat inopportune for the schools. From January primary schools were involved in pre-KS2 and KS2 national assessments followed by the Whitsun half-term holiday which meant that schools were not approachable until late May or June. Nearly all transition activities occur in the window of time following the Year 6 national assessments and before the begin of the summer holidays so Year 6 teachers and secondary teachers in charge of transition are extremely busy during this period. The two missing primary schools could not manage to arrange an interview time, in one school due to teacher illness. This missing information was not deemed detrimental to a comprehensive understanding of the transition processes of the two case children or of an understanding of what leads to a positive transition based on the project data.

Locations of interviews

Nine of the student interviews took place at their respective secondary school with the child’s agreement. The interview time and place was arranged by the teacher in charge of transition.

The location was usually a conference room. Three student interviews were carried out in the student’s home with the parent’s permission.

All secondary and eight of the primary school teacher interviews took place at the respective school, either in a conference room, the staff room or the teacher’s office. Two of the primary interviews were by telephone, one where the teacher was still in school and one where the teacher was at home during the Whitsun half-term holidays, as arranged by the teacher herself. Duration and conduct of interviews

Interviews with the pupils lasted between 20 and 25 minutes. At the beginning of the interview the researcher explained the purpose and probable duration of the interview and asked the student to read and fill out the consent form and sign it. Two children sent in their consent form by post at a later date.

Teacher interviews lasted between 25 and 45 minutes with the average interview being 30 minutes long. The length depended very much on the teacher, how much he or she had to say and the length of the time slot available to them. School transition documents were supplied by the secondary school teachers. Primary schools generally had no transition documents, data either being handled electronically or documents being supplied by and returned to the secondary school. On the whole interviews were continuous and uninterrupted although some teacher interviews were briefly interrupted by the telephone, other teachers or pupils with queries.

Data handling and analysis procedures

The audio cassettes of the interviews were listened to and notes were taken amounting to 80 pages of approximately 40,000 words. The case studies were initially separated into their three constituent parts and details were collated according to student, primary school and secondary school. Coding was done according to the interview questions. Brief field notes, the websites of the schools and the school documentation where available provided additional sources of data. The commonalities of transition practice and experience were drawn out in order to bring the data together.

In document What makes a successful transition from primary to secondary school? (Page 112-114)