Taking Action: Reflecting on the evidence

Reflecting on Evidence

Applied Practice in Context – Week 30

Collecting the Data:

I knew from the outset that my data collection plan was ambitious when I made the decision to survey both secondary librarians and teachers about librarian leadership focussed on digital literacy. Previous experience had led me to anticipate a reasonable response from librarians, however, the number of teacher responses surprised me at almost double that of the librarians.

Inquiry QuestionBabione (2014) states that the volume of information can “become overwhelming and threatens data overload, with too much information to organise and analyse.” This is proving to be the case, resulting in me choosing to focus on the librarian responses first. I’m confident that when I have time to compare both sets of survey data, it will provide deeper insights, particularly into each profession’s thoughts and attitudes towards librarian leadership.

In both surveys I chose a mixed methods approach:

  • quantitative data to establish a clear picture of respondents
  • qualitative data to determine the main issues and attitudes relating to librarian leadership.

I began framing the librarian survey questions during the learn phase of the spiral of inquiry and these were informed by relevant articles read during the focus phase, as I considered the current landscape and the gap in research.  Once I was satisfied with them, I used them as a base for the teacher survey questions.


Analysing the Data:

My research, coupled with my experience, led me to form hunches during the focus phase of the spiral of inquiry, but I need to be mindful while interpreting the data that I don’t contaminate the results with my own bias or subjectivity. (Babione, 2014)

I began by reading responses as they were submitted, and once the surveys closed, I printed out all responses to enable me to read through them in their entirety, which I did several times before beginning to analyse them.

Graphs from quantitative data allowed for quick comparisons.  Below are graphs of how librarians think their schools view librarians as leaders compared to how librarians view themselves as leaders, though it should be noted that sample sizes of 40 librarians and 79 teachers while unlikely to be considered significant, still gives valuable insights that represent general attitudes and beliefs.

1 = Not at all  –  4 = Considerably
1 = Not at all  –  4 = Considerably

I then began coding the qualitative responses to these questions, attempting to establish similarities and differences, and identify respondent perceptions to leadership. I used a subsequent layer of coding to identify the opportunities and barriers from the responses to leadership, some of which correlated to previous research. Calvert (2016) identified people and relationships as well as institutional structures among some of the enablers and barriers around librarian leadership in schools, while Clephane’s 2014 research also included attitudes and culture. All of these align with identified librarian perceptions in this survey.

Through this process, I came to realise not all the data I collected was worthy of analysis for the purposes of my research question (Babione, 2014). I will come back to those ones again at a later stage of the analysis.  I am also conscious of the need to revisit the responses I have already analysed, using other lenses to extract different insights from the data.


Reflecting on the Data:

The librarian survey results, to some extent, confirmed my hunches, but I have also realised that some questions were too ambiguous and open to alternative interpretation by respondents. However, it has clarified librarian views of the issues, which I can go on to compare to those of their teaching colleagues.

I have indeed been too ambitious within the timeframe of this research.  However, the rich data collected through both surveys will further inform my thinking and contribute to my 2019 NZEI support staff scholarship, investigating collaborative practice models between teachers and librarians in the UK. It potentially could be included in a submission to interested groups about the wisdom of investing sufficient resources into school libraries to support learning.


Babione, C. (2014). Analyzing, interpreting and managing inquiry study. Practitioner Teacher Inquiry and Research. USA: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Calvert, P. (2016). School libraries in New Zealand as technology hubs: Enablers and barriers to school librarians becoming technology leaders. School Libraries Worldwide, 22(2), 51-62. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.14265.22.2.05

Clephane, S. (2014). New Zealand school librarians: Technology leaders? School Libraries Worldwide, 20(2), 14-27. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.14265.20.2.002

Survey Monkey. (n.d.) Sample size calculator. Retrieved from https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/sample-size-calculator/

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