Gibbs, Graham R. and King, Nigel (2002) Using creativity techniques to improve node tree construction in template analysis using NVivo. In: Strategies in Qualitative Research, Institute of Education Conference 2002, 7-8 February 2002, London, UK. (Unpublished)

In recent years we have taught postgraduate students and novice researchers qualitative analysis using template analysis. This is a form of thematic analysis developed from phenomenological approaches and has many affinities with grounded theory. Those using the technique construct a hierarchically arranged template of codes or nodes. In our experience, learners have great difficulty in developing a template beyond the obvious, first attempt. We have therefore experimented with a range of techniques borrowed from creativity research, such as magnification, combination and rearrangement, to help learners develop more sophisticated nodes and node relationships.

These were implemented using NVivo. For example, to simulate forced combination, learners cleared all free nodes then moved all tree nodes into the free nodes area. This breaks the tree structure and arranges nodes alphabetically. Learners then merged coded text from consecutive pairs of these nodes (effectively random pairings) and attempted to construct a new node and definition based on the text. This paper will report on learners' experience of these techniques and suggest some guidelines for the creative use of NVivo in teaching qualitative analysis techniques. These guidelines will also be of relevance to improving the credibility and transferability of analysis.

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