Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Text analysis

I found out that Neal Rogness in Statistics is doing research using lexical analysis (mixed methodological approach that combines quantitative statistical analysis with qualitative surveys), and he learned how to do text analysis coding mainly from Rachel Campbell in Sociology (mixed methodological approach that combines quantitative statistical analysis with in-depth qualitative interviews and focus groups).

I read the article:

Kaplan, Jennifer J; Haudek, Kevin C.; Ha, Minsu; Rogness, Neal; & Fisher, Diane G. (2014). "Using Lexical Analysis Software to Assess Student Writing in Statistics." Technology Innovations in Statistics Education, 8 (1). Retrieved from:

It compares using the expensive and licensed SPSS-TAS (Text Analysis for Surveys) software to the freely-open LightSIDE to do text analysis of surveys. I found the article really helpful, as it described the iterative processes of (manual) hand-coding student survey responses, defining rules, creating categories to represent ideas, building "libraries" of terms and phrases and synonyms, correcting mistakes (false positives or negatives), and representing the analyses visually. TAS "supports the Grounded Theory method of qualitative research" and can create webmaps of connections between ideas (5).

The article concludes with the goal of providing "real-time feedback to ... instructors about their students' understanding of ... concepts" (22) by using the refined TAS "libraries" "as a basis for subsequent analysis." This could be directly related to assessing teaching and student learning in various courses.

The questions I have come from the webmaps. If students make more connections between categories when they respond using disciplinary-based (statistical) ideas about a particular word, and they make different and fewer connections between categories when they respond with more colloquial usage, does that indicate that coming to  understand terminology in particular disciplinary ways correlates to or causes more connections between meanings? Do the webmaps represent our brain synapse connections?

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