Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software By Michelle C. Bligh, Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University, March 18, 2005

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Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software
Michelle C. Bligh, Ph.D.
Claremont Graduate University
March 18, 2005

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  • 1. Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software Michelle C. Bligh, Ph.D. Claremont Graduate University March 18, 2005
  • 2. Why Qualitative Assessment?
    • “ Study the box.”
  • 3. What is Qualitative Research?
    • "Qualitative inquiry is an umbrella term for various philosophical orientations to interpretive research.” - Glesne and Peshkin (1992)
    • "Qualitative research is a loosely defined category of research designs or models, all of which elicit verbal, visual, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory data in the form of descriptive narratives like field notes, recordings, or other transcriptions from audio- and videotapes and other written records and pictures or films.” - Preissle
  • 4. Advantages of Qualitative Research
    • Greater depth and detail
    • Richness and holism
    • Flexibility/lack of constraints
    • Focus on naturally occurring, ordinary events in their natural settings
    • Data are collected in close proximity to the situation
    • Influences of context are not stripped away
    • Allow emphasis on processes, of how and why rather than just what
  • 5. Advantages of Qualitative Research (continued)
    • Undeniability
    • Lead to new integrations/interpretations
    • Can avoid pre-judgments/halo effects
    • Consistency
    • Supplement, validate, explain, illuminate, or reinterpret quantitative data
  • 6. Disadvantages of Qualitative Research
    • Extremely time-consuming/labor intensive
    • Data overload
    • Subjectivity/researcher bias
    • Reactivity
    • Dependent on researcher’s attributes/skills
    • Psychologically draining
  • 7. Sources of Data
    • Open-ended questions
    • Logs, journals, or diaries
    • Observations
    • Stories
    • Case studies
    • Individual ‘interviews’/Oral exams
    • Discussion groups/Focus groups
    • Etc.
  • 8. Your Approach Depends On…
    • 1. The focus of your study and the themes you want to address
    • 2. The needs of those who will use the information
    • 3. Your resources (time, energy, money, software available)
  • 9. Qualitative Analysis (Miles & Huberman)
    • Data reduction
      • Selecting, focusing, simplifying
    • Data display
      • Creating organized, compressed representations of information
    • Conclusion Drawing and Verification
      • Deciding what things mean and testing them for plausibility/validity
  • 10. Coding
    • Coding is analysis
    • Codes are tags or labels for assigning units of meaning to the descriptive or inferential information compiled
    • It is the meaning that matters
    • Codes are used to retrieve and organize the chunks of information, so you can quickly find, pull out, and cluster the segments relating to a particular topic
  • 11. Types of Codes
    • Descriptive : attributing a class of phenomena to a segment of text (e.g., spelling)
    • Interpretive : include a more complex, underlying meaning (e.g., unsupported argument)
    • Pattern : inferential and explanatory; group codes into a smaller number of themes or constructs; analogous to cluster and factor analysis in statistics (e.g., thoroughness)
  • 12. The process of coding
    • Create a provisional “start list”
      • Usually anywhere from 12 – 60
      • Get them on a single page for reference
      • Make sure they are organized/structured
    • Create code definitions
    • Revise coding scheme
      • Filling in: adding, reconstructing preexisting codes
      • Extension: recoding with a new theme or insight
      • Bridging: seeing new relationships
      • Surfacing: identifying new categories
  • 13. The process of coding (cont.)
    • Structure is key : codes should relate to one another, they should be part of a governing structure
    • Structure includes larger, more conceptually inclusive codes, and smaller, more differentiated codes
    • Pattern codes should represent a web of meaning that is grounded in the data
  • 14. Uses of Qualitative Software
    • Data reduction
      • Retrieving text that has pre-determined significance
    • Text exploration
      • Helping researcher recognize underlying themes of the text
  • 15. Advantages of CAQDAS
    • Makes the sheer volume of data more manageable
    • Helps to selectively retrieve information
      • Can summarize results in structured lists and tables
    • Helps to evaluate the weight of supporting vs. non-supporting data
      • Can report results in comparative ways
    • Helps to provide linkages to other types of data and perspectives
      • Can integrate qualitative and quantitative data
  • 16. Types of CAQDAS
    • Text retrieval
      • Examples: the General Inquirer, CATA, TEXTPACK, WordStat, Diction, ZyINDEX, The Text Collector
    • Text analysis
      • Examples:
        • Atlas/TI,
        • ETHNOGRAPH,
        • NUDIST
  • 17. How to Choose
    • What kind of computer user am I?
    • Am I choosing for one project or for many?
    • What kind of projects and databases will I be working on?
    • What kinds of analyses am I planning to do?
    • How important is it to maintain close proximity to the data?
    • What are your financial constraints/access to programs?
  • 18. Text Retrieval Programs
    • Designed to search for, retrieve, and/or count words and phrases
    • Search programs
      • Used in preliminary data analysis to determine whether and where pre-specified words and phrases appear and in what context
    • Content Analysis programs
      • Take inventories (make frequency distributions) of all, or pre-specified, words contained in text
  • 19. Text Retrieval: Primary Questions
    • What words are addressed in a text?
    • Where are particular words used in a text?
    • How do documents differ in terms of vocabulary usage?
    • What concepts are addressed in a text?
    • To what extent are concepts of interest addressed in a text?
  • 20. Typical Features of Text Retrieval Programs
    • Generate text frequency distributions
    • Generate vocabulary comparisons among different texts
    • Work with key-word lists
    • Generate key-word in context lists (KWIC)
    • Search for root words (innovat*)
    • Generate words category counts and statistics
    • Conduct proximity searches (w/i 5 words)
    • Conduct Boolean operator searches (innovation if creativity not w/i 5 words)
  • 21. Text Analysis Programs
    • Developed explicitly for the purposes of description, interpretation, and theory building
    • Facilitate identifying and coding elements of theoretical interest, establishing relationships and building connections
    • A.k.a. Code-and-Retrieve Programs (HyperQual2, Kwalitan, the Data Collector)/Code-Based Theory Builders (ATLAS/ti/NUDIST, Code-a-Text)
  • 22. Primary Questions
    • How often do specific codes occur?
    • How often do specific code sequences occur?
    • Are code sequences indicative of themes?
    • Are code linkages indicative of conceptual relationships?
  • 23. Primary Functions of Text Analysis Programs
    • Attaching codes to segments of text
    • Searching for and assembling coded segments of text
    • Searching for code sequences (look for closely related or overlapping codes to identify patterns and relationships)
    • Counting frequencies of codes, code sequences, or counter-evidence
  • 24. Practical Issues
    • Different types of programs can be used in concert or sequentially
    • Text must be computer readable: transcription, scanning, or importing
    • Special attention must be paid to formatting issues
    • All CQDA programs still require interpretation on the part of the researcher
  • 25. Practical Issues (continued)
    • Reliability problems usually due to the ambiguity of word meanings, category definitions, or coding rules
    • Construct validity : constructs should be correlated with other measures of the same construct
    • Hypothesis validity : constructs should relate in theoretical ways to other constructs
    • Face validity : constructs should appear to measure what they do
    • Semantic validity : persons familiar with the language of the texts should agree that the list of words in a category have similar meanings
  • 26. Advantages of CAQDAS
    • Stability of the coding scheme leads to increased consistency
    • Explicit coding rules yielding comparable results across multiple graders and over time
    • Saves time, freeing instructor to focus on interpretation and explanation
    • Easy manipulation of text to create different types of output and emphases
    • Ability to process large amounts of data in less time and saves paper
  • 27. Limitations of Text Retrieval Programs
    • Lack of natural language processing capabilities (ambiguous concepts, broader context is lost)
    • Insensitivity to negation, irony, tone
    • Inability of researcher to provide a completely exhaustive listing of key words
    • Inability of software to resolve references back and forth to words elsewhere in the text
    • Can result in “word crunching”: transforming rich meanings into meaningless numbers
  • 28. Limitations of Text Analysis Programs
    • Initial time investment
    • Initial monetary investment
    • Output can be tricky for students
    • Can lead to a tendency to focus on details rather than the big picture
    • They don’t do the analysis for you!