This year’s Methods In Chemistry Education Research (MICER18) was the third such event, and my third – an impressive track record for someone who still hasn’t published any pedagogical research! I do, however, feel more equipped than ever, particularly for qualitative data and student project handling. Along with Fraser Scott and Stewart Kirton’s sessions on statistics, and Keith Taber’s ethics, micers 1 to 3 have stopped me feeling so lost in the world of pedagogical research. And so, as with every conference, I’ve selected one takehome lesson I’m going to be adopting.
MICER18 Takeaway: Thematic Analysis
Barry Ryan opened us up with a great session on Thematic Analysis – an approach to analysing text data for overarching themes. This was definitely a big gulf in my prior understanding, and probably the area that I feel the weakest in in hindsight. I’ve previously collected free-form written survey data on paper and had to transcribe it myself; thematic analysis would use this as an initial familiarisation stage. Coding up the data is something I’ve only done on an informal basis: “fifteen surveys mentioned they liked experiment 4”, for example. Thematic analysis adds much more rigour and consolidation to this process, giving a way to concisely and reproducibly convey the “vibe” of a dataset. I am definitely getting deep into this in the coming months, and in future student research projects!