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Qualitative data analyses

The stages of gathering elements for the Learning History (data in professional language) and analyzing, looking for stories and patterns, are overlapping and cyclic. Let me give an example of my approach, in a staccato, telegram style:

  • Interviews - writing on paper - making notes - add reflections - mark every single "unit" that has a meaning and write it on sticky notes
  • Categorize the sticky notes, using large A3-sheets
  • Discuss the categories and sticky notes sayings, l
  • Rearrange all the stuff and cycle again, until themes and patterns, some conclusions and illustrations emerge
  • Make an overview of all the elements arranged by category, in what I call "building blocks" document (see picture); it is a two column story
  • Reading and discussing the data, we fill in the right column, with sensitizing concepts, conclusions, logics
  • We highlight typical quotes an narratives
  • Look for typical illustrations (photos, cartoons, artefacts, observations in our notes)
  • Make a concept of a presentation with the learning history
  • Organize a member check, a meeting to verify the concept findings
  • Make the next concept
  • Draw diagrams to relate crucial factors, like flow diagrams, causal loop diagrams, time bars
  • Organize another member check, and/or validation event, and/ or presentation event
  • The story develops as a means for reflection, choices and new "music"

When the categorizing is done with a small group of people, engaging members of the organization or community, it is an important phase for reflection and sensemaking. What do the sticky notes tell us? What typical quotes, logics, illustrations, sensitizing concepts emerge?

I am surprised by this process every time. I can not explain how it works, but it works, although it costs a lot of effort and discipline in the beginning. 

The process of making a Learning History can be seen as a type of Naturalistic Inquiry. Read more about features and quality criteria for the process



Categorizing data
with sticky notes


Presenting and discussing the concepts


Document with "building blocks"