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Picking up the pieces

March 26, 2011

Two major life events have set me back in my thesis – the death of my Mother, and the start of a new position at a new institution. Both happened early in February, and both have caused me to detach from the research at a fairly critical time in the process – just as I was beginning to do the detailed analysis work on the transcripts. As a result of these two events, I have moved my thesis deadline to the end of June from the middle of May.

What I have done over the past 6 weeks or so is choose an analysis tool (CAQDAS), based on a recommendation from my thesis supervisor. After testing a few (including MaxQDA and nVivio), I’ve chosen Atlas.ti. It felt like the most comfortable, although I would hardly call any of the packages intuitive, but I chalk that up just as much to my status as a beginning researcher as anything else.  Cost was also a factor. Since I am not planning on doing a ton of research after my Masters, I didn’t want to commit a lot of money to a QDA package. Nor did i want a steep learning curve, so I needed to find something that made the most sense to me without spending a lot of time doing software analysis.

I have spent time over the past few weeks getting comfortable with the interface, and now have my project set up and am beginning to do the actual coding and memoing of the transcripts.

I have also reread the passage on analysis in my IPA reference book, and brushing up on how analysis works in an IPA study. The analysis is ideographic, meaning it focuses strongly on the experiences of a single user in a particular context which involves an iterative hermeneutic analysis in which the texts are read and reread. the first phase of analysis is almost a free textual analysis in which I am going through the text and making lots of notes (in the form of memos and codes).  There are no predetermined codes that I am using, but rather I am letting the codes emerge from the data, which means that I am often going back and recoding as I notice codes emerging. My memoing are thoughts and observations, as well as questions I pose to myself to follow-up on as I try to make sense of what is happening for the participant through their own words.

I am trying to pay close attention to the language that they used during the interview. For example, today I came across this from one of my participants (I’ve added emphasis):

there have been times where I have been in class or I have been working with colleagues and they need resources for uh teaching German or something and so I basically put out a a little flyer to my pln and say ‘hey I need does anybody have any resources on teaching German to high school students’ and again within like 3 or 4 minutes you know I have responses and I have resources

As I read this, the first thing that popped into my head was that this was an example of crowdsourcing and leveraging their PLN for resources. But then I began to focus on the word “they” in that passage and began to wonder what that meant. The participant didn’t say “I need resources”, they said “they need resources”. So I began to wonder what they meant by “they”. Does this participant see themselves as a connector between a larger network and a local network of colleagues? Do they see their PLN as a resource not only for himself, but also for the people they work with locally in this case, in their school? Do they perceive of themselves as an agent that can act on behalf of others, and is this a role that they want or like to have?  Is this one of the motivators that they have to create a PLN? To be seen as a knowledge leader who can quickly access resources needed by others in their network? The word “they” has triggered a number of questions for me in the analysis, and reflects the level of analysis at this stage of the game.

This type of analysis takes time. I have spent about 3 hours on the first transcript and have so far only made it through 20 minutes of a 70 minute interview – and I have 7 of these to analyze. June is going to come very quickly.


From → Thesis Research

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