Engaging with Five Level QDA pt1 – Initial responses

The Five-Level QDA textbooks  have been top of my reading list since before they were published late last year, I’m finally getting to read them now and making notes of my reactions, responses, ideas, questions and approaches to implementation.

I’ve finally picked up the book and started reading through the NVivo edition – it took a while what with the first term of the Uni year making me very, VERY busy through to the Xmas break.

I can certainly see several blog posts coming out of it and other responses too I hope. I’m going to be very fortunate in having opportunities for learning and engagement. I’m really looking forward to attending the two training workshops for NVivo (Jan 18-19) and ATLAS.ti (Feb 12-13) . (MaxQDA still remains on my “to do/learn” list.)  And then I’ll be contributing to a session with Christina at the NCRM research methods festival, 3rd-5th July, 2018 in Bath. So this is current blogging bash is partly prep for, and also a response to, those.

Three chapters in and I must say that I really like the book. So far it’s best feature has been the “real world examples” of Christina cooking and how this evokes and illustrates the model through a non-theoretical, non-research and therefore eminently relatable and cleverly chosen analogy. It is far more effective than I expected it to be from its rather detailed and cautious rationalisation and preamble.

There are aspects I’m intrigued to see how they are developed further as I read on, and one or two points where I think my views and experience and situation differ from the authors. So I’m back in Scrivener drafting and collecting together responses to write and post here in a couple of blog posts.

Translation – in theory and practice

One of the key aspects I’m interested in – in practice and in theory – is how the idea of “translation” is central to the model:

And there is clearly a real focus and concern with getting this right – evidenced by Nick’s response and correction of Susan Freise’s interpretation of translation for ATLAS.ti. Having worked with, drawn on, and argued for Actor-Network Theory as having a well developed set of methods, intellectual tools, concepts and tools as well as a serious and sustained engagement with social sincere methods and their messiness (e.g. In John Law’s conference paper “Making a mess with method”[1] and subsequent book “After Method” [2]) this is an area I’m interested to explore further.

ANT also provides some rich resources to challenge and move beyond often simplisitc evoking of “affordances” to explain how users and technologies and methods interact – which I see lurking on page . I’ve written on this before  in Wright and Parchoma (2011) [3] and my former colleague Gale Parchoma has really extended that consideration too in her 2014 paper [4], (and also in this recorded presentation). With both of us drawing on Martin Oliver’s (2005) foundational critique [5].

Teaching Models and Their Contexts and Levels

The other BIG THING for me at least is how the 5LQDA approach can/will/could fit with other models and approaches. I’ve developed my own model for teaching ATLAS.ti and NVivo using the “backronym” POETS for:

  • Prepare (data – e.g. Formatting transcripts, naming files, organising and selecting literature)
  • Organise (importing and organising documents and literature into project folders and sets)
  • Explore (using data exploration and visualisation tools and writing annotations and memos about what you find)
  • Tag (using nodes/codes to tag and index your data to help identify phenomena of interest such as themes)
  • Synthesise (use the powerful query tools to search your data, systematically explore dimensions and variations between cases in your coding, synthesise these insights and then summarise them for your reports)

Therefore a pressing set of questions for me are:

  1. Should I just adopt 5LQDA and replace my materials and models? (I.e. is it just straight up better and something to adopt – or are their issues of translating it from Nick and Christina’s external expert status to the contexts in which I work?)
  2.  Should I adapt and develop my model and approach to work with/within 5LQDA (Could this fit in with/be adapted to/work with the 5LQDA approach, should that approach replace it
  3.  Should I borrow what I like from 5LQDA and use it to develop and adapt my teaching and materials?

There are quite a few considerations in those decisions – a blog post is in development exploring where and how the levels of 5LQDA fit with the model and other approaches and conceptualisations of instruction. Some of which I anticipate will link in to my previous posts on strategies, tactics and technological possibilities.

And finally:

Future developments – opportunities or threats?

One sentence that threw me a little was on p18 of the NVivo books: “the potential misuse of rudimentary automated features that may be introduced in the future are concerning”. Hmmm – what about them alo having potential to transform and adapt qualitative methods and push back against the apparent ceding of the territory of “big data” as a quant-only space? YES there are threats and risks but there are also opportunities. Reminds me again of one of my favourite quotes (with thanks to Daniel Turner at Quirkos for alerting me to this gem at the KWALON conference:

Qualitative analysts have mostly reacted to their new-found wealth of data by ignoring it. They have used their new computerized analysis possibilities to do more detailed analysis of the same (small) amount of data. Qualitative analysis has not really come to terms with the fact that enormous amounts of qualitative data are now available in electronic form. Analysis techniques have not been developed that would allow researchers to take advantage of this fact.
(Blank, 2008, p258 [6])

What’s next?

An aspiration is certainly to see which of the preceding areas generate interest and conversation, and if those might then help to lay the foundations for a more structured / serious exploration and development…  which seems to cluster around the future directions of CAQDAS and how to help prepare people for that. So if you have questions, ideas or responses please post a comment below or on your blog and let’s see where this could go…

References and Links:

1 – Law, J. (2003). Making a Mess with Method In Practice (pp. 1-12).

2 – Law, J. (2004). After method: mess in social science research. London: Routledge.

3 – Wright, S., & Parchoma, G. (2011). Technologies for learning? An actor-network theory critique of ‘affordances’ in research on mobile learning. Research in Learning Technology, 19(3), 247-258. doi:10.1080/21567069.2011.624168 https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v19i3.17113

4 – Parchoma, G. (2014) The contested ontology of affordances: Implications for researching technological affordances for fostering networked collaborative learning and knowledge creation. Computers in Human Behavior, 37, 360-368. 10.1016/j.chb.2012.05.028

5 – Oliver, M. (2005). The Problem with Affordance. E-Learning, 2, 402-413. doi:10.2304/elea.2005.2.4.402 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2304/elea.2005.2.4.402

6 – Blank, G. (2008). Online Research Methods and Social Theory. In N. Fielding, R. M. Lee, & G. Blank (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of online research methods [electronic resource]: Los Angeles, Calif. ; London : SAGE.


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