Reflecting on the Impact of Qualitative Software on Teaching

Clare Tagg


When teaching people how to use qualitative software, a number of factors influence what functions in the software are covered. This paper will discuss the teaching of short intensive small group courses on qualitative software and identify the features in the software that influence the structure of the course and the material covered.
I have taught QSR software (N4, N5, N6, NVivo2, NVivo7 and NVivo8) to small groups of researchers in universities and research organisations for 15 years. Participants have had various levels of research experience including members of faculty with extensive qualitative experience and Masters and first year PhD students. Participants have come from a wide range of disciplines.
The design of each course is generally different to meet the needs of the group, their experience, the practical facilities and when known, the requirements of their project. But how significant is the software in the design of a course? This paper will use records of past courses to identify the elements taught and the reasons for the selection of topics and ordering. The paper will compare the impact of the software user interface, structure, and features by comparing the teaching of similar courses in N6 and NVivo7. The paper will conclude by reflecting on the impact of course design on the use that participants make of qualitative software.


qualitative software; teaching; course design; NVivo; QSR

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Copyright (c) 2011 Clare Tagg

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