References, Tips, and Tools

Includes data related references, tips and tools.


The Annotated Bibliography is a carefully selected set of research-based resources that practitioners and administrators can use to support their work on the Program Improvement/Professional Development (PI/PD) plans. This reference list allows practitioners to investigate independently high quality data resources. Criteria for selection includes being online, free (nearly all), practical, and research-based. The resources consist of articles, government reports, tables, videos, websites, book chapters, and entire books. Each annotation includes a brief overview and, when possible, the page numbers and video length. Most resources were culled from the internet and vetted so that they are practical and of high quality.

The Annotated Bibliography is a work in progress. As new resources are located, they will be added. As part of the Data Learning Community, please send any resources you wish added to the bibliography .  Please include the title, URL, and your reason for wanting the resource added.


This section contains tips for basic qualitative data collection. The tips sheets provide basic information on the method, such as when to use it, how to plan for it, and how to implement it.

Interview Tips
Direct Observation Tips


This section will comprise of Tools that have been researched and found to have potential value to the field. Program staff who have developed tools that were successful for their PI/PD plan are invited to send them to for review and inclusion, so that other programs can benefit from the information.

Tools may include anything that relates to Qualitative Data Methods:

  • Interviews (protocols and questions)
  • Direct Observation (protocol)
  • Surveys and Questionnaires (protocols and questions)
  • Document analysis (protocol for analysis of portfolios, agendas, minutes, lesson plans, implementation guides, photographs, videos, etc.)

MIS Identified Tools


1. Parental Support Template
A seven-question Likert scale (“Not at all” to “A tremendous amount”) that explores how well parents perceive their involvement with their child (school, friends, learning).

2. Family Literacy Resources for New Parents feedback survey
A questionnaire for a program to ascertain how new families enjoyed a variety of resources (“Clear,” “Fun,” “Interesting,” “Valuable,” “Enjoyable”—Check All that apply); checklist of other resources they’d like; access and use of website; program size, etc. Mostly checklist, but some open-ended. (Actually, I think this is a better example of a not-so-good survey. Either include it with that caveat or delete it).

Interviews/Focus Groups

1. Sample In-depth Interview Guide
Protocol example (two pages) for conducting an interview with questions and probes.

2. Sample Focus Group Topic Guide
Protocol example (5 pages) for conducting a focus group. The topic here for discussion are the new standards.

Direct Observation

1. Sample Observation Instrument
Observation protocol (three pages) for observing faculty. Includes checklists, open-ended descriptions (e.g. hands-on activities, problem-solving activities, technology, assessment). Section Two (10 pages) is a Likert-type scale of key indicators to rate the session. It also asks for “supporting evidence” (open-ended).

2. Classroom Observation Protocol
A very detailed descriptive and evaluative observation tool (17 pages). Includes open-ended items (e.g. description of activities, demographics, resources, behaviors) as well as continuum (e.g. interactions, engagement, teacher role). This tool is designed to solicit feedback from both the teacher and the observer. Ten pages of this document are dedicated to instructions and to observation protocol.

3. Protocol for Classroom Observations, Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
This six-page document provides an overview of the protocol and a coding scheme for observing both students and teacher(s) using a continuum that ranges from student-directedness to student disengagement. It includes criteria and a sample coding sheet for the observation. While this is intended as a k-12 tool, it could be adapted for adult education or family literacy.

4. MIS developed tools


Tools from the Field

Submitted with permission:

1. Classroom Observation Rubric. Mary Lou Friedline, PIC, Westmoreland County, PA.

2. Prior Schooling Inventory. Dr. B. Allan Quigley, retired, St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, CA