MICER18 Reflections

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!

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One thought on “MICER18 Reflections

  1. Finally got round to reading this! Interestingly thematic analysis is not necessarily reproducible – it depends on your epistemology. If you are a positivist, then you might do qualitative with a small ‘q’, create a code book and expect to have inter-rater reliability. If you do qualitative with a big ‘Q’ -pure qualitative, then you expect the analysis to be different for each researcher, as each researcher brings their own perspective. These differences are fine and not necessarily that one is better than the other. So you need to be aware of your own perspective when starting. good luck!

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