Research Resources

This page begins with the research paper for junior block but also includes many other research resources for a wide range of needs, from undergraduate paper writing to graduate-level research.

What Difference Does Instruction Make?

Junior Block Research Project

Diagram of Project Concept

Your paper must reflect this essential concept.
Post Minus Pre Equals Difference

What Difference Does Instruction Make Checklist

Please use this to make sure you have everything you need in your paper. It also has instructions for posting your paper to your portfolio page.

What Difference Does Instruction Make Template for Paper

If you are not sure how to write this paper, here is a scaffold that will make sure you have all the parts and that your paper is reasonably well-organized. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE THIS SCAFFOLD. It's here to provide you more information on how to do this project and it also breaks the process down into do-able steps.

Detailed Information on How to Do the What Difference Does Instruction Make Project

Examples of students "What Difference Does Instruction Make" papers

Here is a student's research paper with annotations from professors that describe what the author is doing that makes this an effective research paper:

Examples of high quality student papers. These papers do not follow the scaffold (remember, they don't have to):

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Research conducted by Tobie and Carolyn

We were asked by a school district to evaluate a literacy program used in kindergarten. Here is our evaluation as well as some of the raw material we had.

Here is part of a transcription of an interview

Here is some interview data that has been coded. These statements were coded as "progress."

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Research Resources for Everyone
This page contains information about how research is constructed, how you can read it efficiently, how you can collect and analyze your own data, and even a scaffold for writing a particular kind of research (teacher as researcher, focusing on data-driven instruction, aka "What Difference Does Instruction Make?").

Reading Research Articles Efficiently

The further along you get into school, the more time you spend on reading other people's research. This file describes how to read research quickly and efficiently so you are not wasting a whole bunch of time on something useless.
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Finding information

Resources Go here for internet-based scholarly research tools. These work even if you do not have access to a set of university data bases.
Here is a website with teachers making research-based decisions and sharing a lot of their materials and resources.
Doing Research for a High School or College Level Term Paper
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Research Design

How seriously you take an author's work depends on your philosophy of what counts as information that comes out of research. For example, while an examination of people's behavior in a laboratory can be constructed using scientific method (see below) and may be replicable (multiple people can do the same research and get the same results), how valid is the research? After all, people don't behave the same way in a lab setting as they do in their own, regular life context. Below are resources for understanding research design (also called methodology). All of these resources were chosen because they explain concepts clearly and quickly.

Research Design

These articles describe the characteristics of different types of research.
(design your own research or assess how others have designed theirs)

(for educational technologists but others will find it useful. Highly pictorial explanations)

What Is Scientific Method?

For awhile, research in psychology and education focused on the use of scientific method, which is a formal and exacting approach to finding out information. This method is used somewhat less, as researchers have also added a focus on examining and trying to understand people in their complex personal contexts (such as students in a school setting).
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Whether you are doing your own research project or you are reading someone else's write up about research, you will encounter data and data analysis. What data do people collect? It should have some logical connection to what they are trying to study. How valid is the data?

User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed-Method Evaluations

This document is helpful for doing grants but it also is helpful for some aspects of research such as data collection.

Qualitative Data Analysis

Qualitative data can be overwhelming, and a big criticism of it is that it is not "scientific." Yet it can yield important information that a researcher did not anticipate, because it involves the opinions and reactions of real human beings. This article describes how to analyze qualitative data in a systematic manner, which is far superior to just "eyeballing" the data and making conclusions from that.

Organizing Qualitative Data

Analyzing Qualitative Data

Evaluation of Program

This web page has resources for evaluating environmental education programs and experiences, but these can be adapted to assessing what is happening in any research project.
(Environmental Ed, but steps could be applied to various kinds of research)

Quantitative Data Analysis

A lot of research has been done through translating people's responses into numerical data and then using statistics to interpret that data. Here are some resources for understanding quantitative data and its interpretation.


This is a short (134 pp) free book that can help you get started. Scan it and read details as they seem to apply to you and your thinking.

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Online Statistics Book

Statistics Online Computational Resource (learning about statistics plus computation of statistics)

Online Statistics Calculator
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Writing Resources

How to Write a Term Paper in a Ten Week Quarter
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APA Format

guidelines in a nutshell

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Conducting Research

Integrating the Research of Others in Your Research

The reading of research requires a very different version of the reading process, which is explained in the "Reading Research Efficiently" document at the top of this page.

Analyzing Research

One of the key aspects of reading and analyzing research is that you have to manage a lot of metacognitive processes while reading the research. In other words, you will need to metaphorically have one foot in the land of the research being described and one foot firmly planted in your perspectives and understanding. Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you read the various parts of research.


What did the researcher do and what were the results? They will often throw in bits and pieces about their perspectives and about the problem they are attempting to address, but base a mental summary for yourself on methodology (what the researcher did) and results (what happened).


The introduction provides you with the researcher's perspective on what is important and why it is important. There are probably no conclusions in this part of the research. Instead, its purpose is to introduce and justify the research project. Think about the logic here. What are the assumptions? Do you think those assumptions are valid?

Review of the Literature

This may not be formally marked, but you will find a section in which the research of others has been investigated. Here is a chart that shows how an author (including you) chooses what literature to review:
Researchers tend to comment briefly on each piece of research. For example, they may quote from the research or use a one sentence summary: "[researcher], 2005 examined [research subjects] and found [results]. They also may explain the logic of their choices of literature they present. For example, they might say, [researcher]'s (researcher name, 2010) oft-cited study suggests.... This means that the study is central to the field and that you will need to account for its results in your plan of research design. When researchers quote, they tend to choose material from the implications and not from the first parts of the article (Intro, review of lit).


This is where researchers tell you what they did and why they did it. From the information in the methodology you could do the same study (called "replicating") to see if you get the same results. This part is a lot like a lesson plan. When writing a methodology, you may find yourself justifying certain choices by using some of the literature you have reviewed. Most research projects involve compromises--for example, in a longitudinal study such as the one proposed above, the pitfalls are that keeping track of the same people over time is very difficult and often these studies lose their subjects over time and most longitudinal research will discuss this problem. In order to avoid this pitfall, you may choose to examine middle school students that you know were in a high quality elementary program.

Data Collection

Researchers talk about what data was collected and why. An important issue here is "triangulation" which means finding three different types of data to see if they all lead to the same conclusion. The studies may not mention triangulation specifically, but a study that takes its data from student grades, teacher comments, and interviews with students will probably be more reliable than a research study that uses only one type of data.

Also problematic would be statistical measures of complex human phenomena such as motivation or perspective. Too often these are "measured" by surveys which are analyzed statistically. But in order to create a survey, the researcher has to anticipate what choices will adequately express all the perspectives of the folks being studied. A better survey is one with open-ended questions at the end so that researchers can identify possibly significant responses that were not represented on the survey itself.

Data Analysis

Given the data collected, do the data analysis procedures make sense? Is the data collection systematic--getting the same type of data from all subjects? How many people dropped out before the last piece of data was collected? Does the researcher discuss that and suggest why their project is valid despite the drop outs? How does the researcher justify choices made about data analysis.


The findings are made up of conclusions from the data. They may specifically answer research questions raised in the introduction, in which case, think about how logical the answers are in relation to the questions. Do the findings confirm findings in other research articles? Are the findings somehow counterintuitive? How does the researcher explain this?


Often there are suggestions here for future research. Do these make sense to you?

Research Part
How to include the research of others
Don't mention any articles that are not cited somewhere else in your research.
Who else has discussed the same issue/problem as you are discussing?
Review of the Literature
Take each strand of literature represented in your thesis statement and review the literature in that strand, always relating it back to your research.
Who else has used a methodology similar to yours? You can also re-use material from your review of the literature.
Data Collection
Who else has done similar data collection procedures? Who else has a philosophy similar to yours and created data collection processes accordingly?
Data Analysis
Cite other examples of the kind of data analysis that you want to do in order to justify your choices.
Compare your findings to the findings of others from the review of the lit and other sections above.
This is about you. Probably you won't put any citations in that you haven't already used.