MOOC: week 2 reading – Cohen

Cohen’s research focused on the student experience of participating in an distance learning drawing class. She used two primary methods: grounded theory interviews (qualitative) and a content analysis of the critiques. As she notes in her paper, content analysis can be considered to be qualitative or quantitative. She and her dissertation board agreed that her content analysis, following as it did, France Henri’s model, constituted a quantitative approach.

Cohen asserts that much was gained through a mixed (or, as one of her dissertation committee suggests, multiple) method approach: ‘comparing the student’s personal description of the critique experience with the frequency count of the codes from the content analysis resulted in a deeper, richer understanding…’.

In terms of approaches, I am interested in the grounded theory method which she defines as ‘generating theory from interview data’. I am currently considering an ethnographic study of a work space and at this stage I think that one-to-one interviews comprised of open-ended questions will be a key method to ascertain users’ responses to the space.

New terms: 

Constant comparative method:  a process in which any newly collected data is compared with previous data that was collected in one or more earlier studies. This is a continuous ongoing procedure, because theories are formed, enhanced, confirmed, or even discounted as a result of any new data that emerges from the study.

One way in which data can be constantly compared throughout a research study is by means of coding.

Coding:  the process of going through the data looking for themes, ideas and categories and then noting similar parts in the text and giving them  a ‘code label’.

Dimensional analysis: the synthesis of dimensionless variables. Dimensionless variables are ‘unit-less’. See this paper for a more detailed (and possibly more confusing) explanation.

Cohen, A 2014. ‘A mixed-methods study of collaboration in distance learning drawing classes’ [online]. SAGE Research Methods Cases.

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