ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Teaching NVivo to a large cohort of undergraduate students

Lynne Roberts, Lauren Breen, Maxine Symes

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 8 - Law Building, Room 100
Date: 2012-07-12 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-15


Psychology has a strong tradition of quantitative research conducted within a positivist framework. Reflecting this, undergraduate students in psychology have traditionally been educated in quantitative research methods. However, internationally qualitative research in psychology is becoming more popular and courses in this area are increasing in undergraduate and postgraduate psychology degrees.

Currently, teaching methods of qualitative research usually incorporate ‘manual’ analysis of the qualitative data. However, qualitative research is increasingly being conducted with the support of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). This type of software first emerged in the mid-1980s, with a range of CAQDAS programs now commercially available. One popular CAQDAS program is NViVo.

Limited research has been conducted on teaching students how to use NVivo. Publications typically focus on teaching NVivo to small groups of postgraduate (primarily doctoral) students and mostly take the form of reflections of the trainers. No research could be located on teaching NVivo to large cohorts of undergraduate students as part of their training in research methods.

In 2011, we implemented the teaching and use of NVivo within a large third year psychology research methods unit at Curtin University. This was supported by a $10,000 in-kind grant from QSR International. In this presentation we report on the evaluation of this experience, based on the results from an anonymous online survey completed by 61 students enrolled in the unit. We will present both quantitative and qualitative findings related to students’ use of the resources provided, their confidence in using NVivo, their satisfaction with the teaching and their intentions to use CAQDAS in the future. We end our presentation by focusing on future changes that need to be made in our teaching of NVivo in order to maximise the pedagogical value, and suggest some guidelines for the teaching of NVivo to large cohorts of undergraduate students.