ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Teaching computer assisted qualitative analysis with NVivo

Claude Julie Bourque, Sylvain Bourdon

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 8 - Law Building, Room 100
Date: 2012-07-12 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2012-04-27


An increasingly popular graduate course focused on computer-assisted qualitative analysis supported by NVivo has been offered at Université de Sherbrooke’s Faculty of Education for ten years, attracting doctoral students from a variety of fields (education, social sciences, administration, literature, engineering, health sciences, etc.). Based on socioconstructivist pedagogy, this four-month, in-depth training course uses four complementary and simultaneous approaches: lectures, lab-based workshops, the production of a complete mini-research project, and web-based peer co-learning. The instructors also use the structure and materials produced for this course in intensive, short-term training sessions for small research teams in France and Québec. The instructors are QSR-accredited but independent from the company. In our presentation, we will introduce the sample NVivo project created for this course, including original “raw” material used to ensure that students and learners acquire practical experience in data processing (preparing, importing and organizing), as well as the planning of the project students produce over the four-month period. The student project includes all of the main steps related to data transformation and analysis, including query procedures, coding and “coding on” techniques, memo writing, result exporting, use of models and charts, and final output production (written report and colloquium presentation). The presentations allow for reflexive discussion between student s about their work and the comparison of their results, focusing on the differences induced by their respective conceptual frameworks and analytical approaches. The course is designed to enable the use of any type of theoretical framework compatible with qualitative analysis, including grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin, 1990), Wolcott's three-dimensional process (1994), social fields analysis (Bourdieu, 2011; 1975), mixed methods analysis (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2001), and other conceptual frameworks. Our course’s approach has the advantage of enabling the joint training of researchers from different scientific fields, who bring a variety of interests and perspectives, while following a single course plan that leaves space for the learners’ specific concerns.