Saturday 7 January 2012

Developing a qualitative research coding index for first-year, university students' ICT practices

This post was written for researchers interested in the background to the fourth phase of the ICT Access and Use qualitative research project's coding process.

The fourth phase of the IDRC-funded Centre for Educational Technology's ICT Access and Use project uses digital ethnographies to understand how twenty six, first-year students at four South African Universities used Information Communication Technology (ICT) for study and leisure purposes last year.

This research phase saw four researchers at the universities of Cape Town, Rhodes, Orange Free State and Fort Hare prepare eight sets data:
  1. A series of interview videos between the university's researcher and his or her subjects;
  2. Videos of focus groups;
  3. Videos of ICT use at home;
  4. Videos of formal and informal mobile phone video use; 
  5. Videos of social media and internet use;
  6. Videos University software use (such as learning management systems)
  7. Screengrabs of Facebook use;
  8. and documents of the researchers' reflections.
NVivo 9 software has been used to import these media files for coding and qualitative analysis. However, before either of these could start, Cheryl BrownLaura CzerniewiczKelsey Wiens and I worked at preparing  classifications and a coding index that could be queried for most of the project's research questions, whilst being robust enough to answer any new questions that might arise.

Preparing this coding followed these eight steps:

1 Kelsey and I reviewed the project's documents and transcribed key points from student interviews;

2 I illustrated these points on two large cyan posters with yellow stickies (these were very useful for re-grouping concepts on the board);

ICT Access and Use phase four coding poster (9 January, 2012).
3 These points were reviewed internally and presented externally to the universities' researchers and their most engaged students;

4 Kelsey and I separated the points that were to be used for classification or coding;

5 Kelsey developed a numeric index in creating the Google document: "Past ICT Use 1". I followed this index in developing "Current ICT Use 2" and "Future ICT Use 3";

6 We reviewed these documents internally and revised them;

7 I then added these codes to the NVivo research project file and am now using them to code student interviews;

8 As I apply these codes using node shortcuts, I am also updating the "ICT Use" documents with new codes to describe ideas that may prove useful for querying later.

Below is an example of how these codings have been added to a video in the research project file:
Screengrab of coding for Ace's first interview in NVivo 9. (9 January, 2012).
I trust this post enables you understand the coding process we followed?

If you have a question, suggestion or other feedback, please type it as a comment below.

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