I’ve been thinking a lot about grounded theory for my dissertation writing lately, and its role in the development of strategies for qualitative coding, so I thought I’d share some resources I found.
Grounded theory, which emerged from the work of Glaser and Strauss, is an approach I took in my work because it allows you to discover theory from data in order to generate hypotheses, rather than test hypotheses. I have found it a useful approach in a realm of study where past literature is scarce and more theory is required, and also because it appeals to my beliefs that free-choice learning research needs more base-level ground work in some areas regarding teaching and practice.
In terms of qualitative coding, grounded theory has helped framed the constant comparative method. Here, you code descriptive data (i.e. interviews, videos) by the themes that emerge from the data, either describing those themes using the language found in the data itself ( “in vivo”) or using terminology a researcher applies based on the conceptual framework of the study. In essence, you constantly compare the emerging themes to one another to make larger groups of themes that help you build a claim about the data. I’ve used this method for data analysis several times, and although it is long-winded, I find it amazingly useful for getting to know your data from the inside out.
Here is a cute video to help you visualize the constant comparative method: http://goo.gl/RReqN
So in terms of resources for grounded theory and qualitative coding, I’ve found some very helpful videos by Graham Gibbs, a researcher from the University of Huddersfield in the UK who specializes in social research and evaluation. He has a youtube channel of his lectures which he has created as part of the courses he teaches, but also because he believes in providing outreach for other social researchers. Find it at http://goo.gl/T2VhS
What I like about these videos the clarity of the conversation around strategies and approaches behind qualitative coding, which I think are incredibly useful for helping to better understand not only how to code, but the different qualitative approaches that are out there for researchers. In the past, I had been confused by the literature in terms of how specifically to apply grounded theory and coding in practice, but I think these videos really help put the literature together in a meaningful way. They’re also a good example of social science outreach, and helping others understand the mechanics of qualitative research.