Qualitative methods are widely used in learning and teaching research and scholarship. While the epistemologies and theoretical assumptions can be unfamiliar and sometimes challenging to those from, for example, science and engineering backgrounds, there is a wide appreciation of the value of these methods. There are many, often excellent, texts and resources on qualitative approaches, however, these tend to focus on assumptions, design, and data collection rather than the analysis process per se.
More and more it is recognized that clear guidance is needed on the practical aspects of how to do qualitative analysis. As Nowell, Norris, White, and Moules explain, the lack of focus on rigorous and relevant thematic analysis has implications in terms of the credibility of the research process. This article offers a practical guide to doing a thematic analysis using a worked example drawn from learning and teaching research.
It is based on a resource we developed to meet the needs of our own students and we have used it successfully for a number of years. It was initially developed with local funding from National Digital Learning Repository and then shared via the NDLR until this closed in 2014. In response to subsequent requests for access to it, we decided to revise and develop this as an article focused more specifically on the learning and teaching context. Following Clarke & Braun’s recommendations, we use relevant primary data, including a worked example, and refer readers to examples of good practice.
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