Tuesday, September 05, 2017

My PhD Journey - Musing #3 - Coding adventures

I spent the weekend buried in Saldaña's book on coding. Yes, I had browsed it before, but for some reason this time it really started to make sense! Just realised I have the 2009 edition from USQ - wondering if I should chase up a more recent edition....?

My PhD research - a summary
  • Paradigm - Post-positivism
  • Methodology - Interpretive
  • Method - Qualitative
The strategy chosen for qualitative research is a case study, the design of which is a single case study bounded by the phenomenon of online global collaborative experience (Yin, 2014). The context is K-12 education, with embedded multiple units of analysis being global educators.

So.......my interview data was collected in 2016. I did preliminary coding in that year and have been working on moving data into NVivo this year to be able to see connections, themes, and key concepts more easily. This initial coding used colour highlighting of transcribed text to reflect structural content based on research and interview questions.

Reading 'The coding manual' again has been a breakthrough in that I now appreciate that 'coding is not a precise science, it is an interpretive act'. I need to approach coding as a heuristic (enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves) and as an analytical tactic.

So.....taking Saldaña's suggestions on board I have started the time consuming task of recoding all data. Apparently that is what qualitative researchers do - round 2, even a round 3 may take place...oh! Anyway, what a surprise! I started with an interview I am struggling to 'write-up' in chapter 5 (the chapter where all 9 interviews are presented...and I am almost finished!). This interview has not inspired me - not sure why - data fatigue maybe? Anyway, taking an analytical approach and using the following techniques ideas, concepts, practices, beliefs now seem to 'pop' off the page!

Of the many ways that data could be coded, according to Saldaña, I am focusing on these approaches:
  • STRUCTURAL - reviewing past coding, with a focus on alignment with research questions (given a highlight colour in my transcript based on round 1 coding)
  • DESCRIPTIVE - one word to summarise a topic
  • IN VIVO - single key words of importance (underlined in my transcript) using the interviewees language
  • PROCESS - the use of '...ing' words
  • VALUES - codes to reflect a participant's attitudes, values and beliefs (indicated by * at the start of a phrase, and then an A, V or B followed by the description)

Here is a very short example from my data.....maybe I am overdoing it? Too much coding? 

 What I am really struggling with is distinguishing 'VALUE' codes - it seems that attitudes, values and beliefs often overlap and the natural flow of speech in an interview blends or blurs this even further. The example above, the interviewee stated "I have that kind of flexibility where if I need something opened up.....", I have coded as V: Flexibility to control learning environment. I see this as a value the person holds. But maybe it is an attitude....hmmmm.

Looking for further reassurance.....this is what I found...

Qualitative codes and coding by Heather Ford - on Slideshare

This more recent article by Nick Hopwood, 'How do I know I'm coding well in qualitative analysis?', provides these key points (and I am thinking hard about all of them!)
  1. Good coding relates to how hard you’re thinking (and helps you think harder).
  2. Good coding means you are seeing new things in the data and these new insights are progressive.
  3. Good coding settles towards a parsimonious set of codes/categories/themes.
  4. Good coding opens up as much as it closes off: coding rarely, if ever, provides the answers to your questions.
As Nick shares, good coding is about being able to take steps into good analysis and synthesis of ideas. If it is not supporting this, then coding is a waste of time. I am still wondering if I am 'over-coding' but feel comfortable with my new approach so far. The In Vivo codes are growing - so many 'important' words, and once I redo the Nvivo data this manual list will be a key resource for searching all interviews via that tool.

Ok....back to it....

Julie Lindsay
Coding, coding coding....PhD Student

Saldaña, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers: Sage. 

Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: design and methods (Fifth ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.

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