The Potential of Qualitative Content Analysis for Empirical Educational Research

Michaela Gläser-Zikuda, Gerda Hagenauer, Melanie Stephan


Researchers carrying out empirical studies in education are faced with complex and multifaceted phenomena that need to be investigated from different perspectives and with various methodological approaches. A suitable, often-applied method in empirical educational research is qualitative content analysis (QCA), developed by Philipp MAYRING (1983, 2015). This method can be used for inductive and deductive strategies of analysis, and is appropriate for combining qualitative and quantitative analyses, especially for research strategies based on mixed methods approaches (CRESWELL, 2015), which have for several years now been extensively discussed in empirical educational research (GLÄSER-ZIKUDA, SEIDEL, ROHLFS, GRÖSCHNER & ZIEGELBAUER, 2012; HAGENAUER & GLÄSER-ZIKUDA, 2019; MAYRING & GLÄSER-ZIKUDA, 2008). In this article, we discuss the potential of QCA for empirical educational research by giving insights into the basics of analysis and by providing research examples. We also briefly address the relevance of digitally supported analysis and describe specific software packages. Finally, we discuss the potential and challenges of applying QCA within mixed methods designs in the field of empirical educational research.


qualitative content analysis; empirical educational research; inductive category development; deductive category application; mixed methods

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Copyright (c) 2020 Michaela Gläser-Zikuda, Gerda Hagenauer, Melanie Stephan

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