Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dealing with data

So, here's the thing. My background is primarily literature based, that is, most of my previous work involved applying theory to texts. I am now faced with having data--most of it text--that I need to analyze in some kind of scientific way. I have decided to write up a case study or two or three (I actually have 6 people's data) because that seemed the easiest approach for me to take given my time frame and my subject. However, I have a couple of issues. One is the coding of this data. I have interviews with my subjects. I'll be coding them and then having a couple of outside readers code them. I'm not sure exactly how to do this, only having read results of such a process and not having done it myself. I think I will be able to work this out with some good resources that my committee has pointed me to.

The second, and perhaps more important, issue is the rest of the data. I have tons of it. I wanted to somehow analyze the blog itself. But I have no idea how to approach that. Also, I have survey results and class evaluations. What do I do with that? I was thinking I could summarize some of it, writing a short chapter on some of the issues raised by the blog and these surveys and evaluations. That chapter would be followed by the case studies. But maybe there's something else I should do with it. It's possible that I could use this data later. I am planning to teach the class again, after all.

It's a dilemma.

4 comments:

Bud Hunt said...

I'd be very interested in the codes that you use -- as well as the process that you ultimately decide upon. I'm a high school language arts teacher and blogger in Colorado looking to do a thesis involving blogs and/or disruptive technologies. I discovered your blog in a post by Will Richardson today -- and am very interested to see how you go about getting your work done.

Why wouldn't you code the blog and your other information in order to get a handle on what you're working with? Do you have your research questions somewhere? (Am I asking too many questions?)

Bud Hunt said...

Uh -- Duh. I just started skimming your archives -- I've got some back-reading to do. Forgive my ignorance.

prof_chuck said...

Laura,

What you are trying to do is awesome and I commend you.

As an experimental psychologist I'm very in touch with quantitative measures and such, yet at this early stage of the game qualitative analysis is key. I don't know a lot of psychologist that do this type of work, but my friends in Sociology do it all the time (and very well I might add).

Don't be afraid to worry your comm members. That's what they are supposed to be there for...

Good luck, Chuck

Laura said...

Chuck and Bud,

Thanks for you comments. I'm sort of floundering with the analysis part. Bud, I will be coding the blog, but only for a couple of students. I just posted my thoughts about the research so far. I'm hoping to read up on some ways to analyze my data and come up with a good approach. I've talked over some things with my committee and they think I'm headed in the right direction, so we'll see.