Saturday, October 24, 2015

Week 8-Data Mining

Essential Question: How can data mining assist you in triangulating your research findings?
Data mining can help support what you hope to find. This can be especially useful if you don’t have the data you need to support your research. Data mining involves gathering data from any artifacts or documents that are available for review. These documents and artifacts can be online or in print. There is so much data available to people. It can be hard to figure out where to look with all of this data. Data mining helps a person to make meaning out of all the data that they find (Alexander). “Data mining is a means of automating part of this process to detect interpretable patterns; it helps us see the forest without getting lost in the trees” (Furnas, 2012). You can have tons of info with all of the data that is out there. This means you could be “information rich, but data poor” (Alexander).

“A qualitative study of classroom instruction would lead to documents in the form of instructors' lesson plans, student assignments, objects in the classroom, official grade reports and school records, teacher evaluations, and so on” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015, pp. 175). There are many limitations and benefits to using documents or artifacts. The main limitations include authenticity and bias. (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015, pp. 181-182). Authenticity refers to some documents or artifacts being anonymous and because of this you cannot verify if they are credible or not. Bias is usually unintentional because the writer may not even realize they are including bias. Bias may come from the writer not remembering accurately as well. The main benefit is that many of these documents or artifacts are free and easy to get (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015, pp. 183). They provide much information without having to collect the information yourself. This benefit alone can override the above mentioned limitations. If you are in need of data, knowing where to find more can be very important. It is also important to figure out how to make meaning out of what you find. This becomes the most important task a researcher is faced with.


Alexander, D. (n.d.). Data Mining. Retrieved October 24, 2015, from

Furnas, A. (2012, April 3). Everything You Wanted to Know About Data Mining but Were Afraid to Ask. Retrieved October 24, 2015, from

Merriam, Sharan B.; Tisdell, Elizabeth J. (2015, July 6). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation (JOSSEY-BASS HIGHER & ADULT EDUCATION SERIES). Wiley. Kindle Edition.


  1. Sara,

    I agree that bias is a huge issue with using documents, especially if we are creating them for use. When we create a document, we select the questions we want to focus on, ignoring other aspects of the research that may be relevant to the project. My huge issue so far is the different between how I perceive engagement in class and how my students perceive it. I never thought to ask the student what they think engagement looks like before I gave them a survey on whether or not they are engaged in class. For the most part, my students believe they are engaged during class, but through my observations so far, I haven't seen that from them.

    I hope your data collection is going well!

  2. Sara- That is a very good reason to data mine to get support for your research. I do think though for some research there may be so much data online. That some it may overwhelm people. For my project, I didn’t seem to find enough data, so that may be good or not. I think then I can use the data that I find and compare that to the data that I have read about. At least I don’t have to scroll through so much articles. :)