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The challenge of listening: The effect of researcher agenda on data collection and interpretation

The challenge of listening: The effect of researcher agenda on data collection and interpretation

This article, presented at the 2002 Physics Education Research Conference, discusses how a researcher's interests dictate which student statements in a clinical interview are considered to constitute data. The authors argue that to the extent that research agendas are unexamined, they may control attention inappropriately, limiting the effectiveness of both data collection and data interpretation. The authors describe an interview in which the interviewer paid nearly exclusive attention to the student's conceptual understanding of charge flow, thereby missing information about, for example, her epistemological frame. The authors also describe a later analysis of the same interview, in which our first reactions to the interview say more about our agendas as researchers than about the character of the interview itself.

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