You can conduct qualitative or quantitative content analysis.
- Quantitative Observational Research*
1. Define and limit the population – what are you studying? People? Assignments? Courses?
2. Select coding units: Course? Answer? Conversational turn? Test items?
3. Determine classification systems for study: What categories will each unit need to be coded into – inductively or deductively? (Hint: This is an iterative process J)
- Exhaustive – every unit should fit into a category (including “other”)
- Mutually exclusive – every unit should only fit into ONE category
- Coding rules/manual – how to determine which category fits
Use of fonts emoticons (coding online courses for nonverbal immediacy)
Unit: entire class: Categorized based on the majority of pages, headings, documents, and announcements
Categories: Use of “fun” fonts: less formal and business like; use of emoticons, manipulation of punctuation to indicate emotions (“interesting . . .”; not emphasis for assignments etc.), so multiple exclamations count!!! (single do not); nonverbal vocalizations (“hmmm . . ., soooo?”); and/or emoticons (as symbols J or created ;).
Emotion expressive: Often uses fun fonts and/or other nonverbal emotive indicators such as, emoticons, vocalizations etc.(more than half the pages/announcements etc. use some form of nonverbal emotive indicators)
Emotion low: Sporadic (not consistent) uses of fun fonts and/or uses some other nonverbal emotive indicators
Emotionless: No use of fun fonts or other nonverbal emotive indicators
4. Sample messages: Get your sample
5. Code messages: At least two coders for all or part of the data – determine interrater reliability (Scott’s pi, percent agreement, etc. - see resources).
6. Analyze the data
Content analysis methods guides:
Overview of content analysis: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm
Flow chart of content analysis process: http://academic.csuohio.edu/kneuendorf/c63311/
Qualitative content analysis description:
Calculating interrater reliability:
Online tool to calculate reliability: http://dfreelon.org/utils/recalfront/
*Source for general information: Reinard, J.C. (2008). Introduction to Communication Research, 4th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
(1) Dixson, M.D., Greenwell, M., Lauer, S., Rogers-Stacy, C., & Weister, T. (2014). Nonverbal immediacy behaviors and online student engagement: Bringing past instructional research into the present virtual classroom. Unpublished ms.
Dixson, Mack @ FACET, 2014
Other Web-based Resources
- Qualitative Research
Qualitative content analysis, unlike quantitative, does not seek to count or categorize, necessarily, but to pull out recurring themes and trends from conversations, speeches/lectures, or other forms of "text." It is often an iterative process of working through the data multiple times to interpret messages.