Research your Passion

Wow.. I am blown away by the research experience I have had in the last 24 hours..

Sometime this summer when I heard about a few prominent teachers leaving Oklahoma, I was left with the question.. What have we as a state lost? I started to think about how we could capture this phenomenon and document the teachers who left Oklahoma and where did they go.

This is phenomenon research – research designed to capture and document something that is happening at a given time.  it is often framed by context or events and is time sensitive.   If you want to learn more about this type of research consult this special issue of Change management on the topic.

I started out wanting to do the research anonymously – teachers leaving Oklahoma is a highly politically charged topic and i was not interested in being part of that.  but then after talking to a few teachers,  I realized that knowing that a professor was asking the questions was important.

I began working on a survey, got feedback from current teachers and teachers who left about the questions. The survey grew based on this feedback and also the sample narrowed.   It became clear that the sample needed clear bounding. So I limited it only to educators who are still working in education but in a different state.  I know this excludes people who left education or could not move for a variety of reasons – but again, this is phenomenon research – so the phenomenon I am capturing is educators who left OK to teach elsewhere and why they did that.   Those other choices were equally as valid and may be part of another study, but one of the challenges of a study is set clear boundaries. I also decided to only allow people to fill it out for themselves – and then that way I won’t ask a name, and they can do it anonymously (however, the collection of their data in some ways identifies them).

I went through a week of Human Subjects approval which also refined my survey more and did a few more proofings.

My ultimate goal is to look at the economic and educational impact of this phenomenon as well a produce a visual map to show who has moved to where.

The survey is found at  

I am sampling using snowball sampling. I am sharing it on social media including a facebook group about educators in Oklahoma and Twitter.   And then encouraging others to share.  So my few posts of sharing, has a snowball effect to let others identify participants.

In the first 18 hours I had 135 responses.. (about 130  were valid and complete enough)

It allowed me to create this map after only 18 hours. Click on the pin to see where the teachers had taught in Oklahoma.

I am going to continue to capture data and plan to create new maps along the way.

But wow.. First,  what I am learning so far. People are so passionate about this issue.  Second, even after leaving the state, teachers have maintained an important network of educators and still care deeply about the state and their communities.  Third, we have a lot of work to do to learn about this problem.  Lots more info in the survey but this visual has a lot to say too.

My final, thought, I was a little in a research doldrum and I am so excited by this opportunity and idea..  Proof that research is driven by passion and the results can surprise you.

Thank you to everyone who is sharing the survey ( , and I will continue to capture data.


One thought on “Research your Passion”

  1. Wow, this is really inspiring! I saw your tweets yesterday; how cool that you are already able to share what you are learning as a result. That’s fantastic! I will be looking forward to more of these posts; this is really important for the future of Oklahoma.

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