The Use of Video Analysis Software in Behavior Observation Research: Interaction Patterns in Task-oriented Small Groups

Sabine C. Koch, Jörg Zumbach


In two projects at the University of Heidelberg we tested the video analysis software THEME (MAGNUSSON, 1997) in order to identify communicative patterns in task-oriented small group interaction. In an instructional psychology project with a cognitive science background we analyzed collaborative knowledge construction processes within a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) session (ZUMBACH & REIMANN, 2000). In this study we found that before and after a training phase interaction patterns in a learning group would change in quality and quantity. Participants displayed, e.g., more complex interaction patterns in the final discussion—after an individual learning phase—than in the beginning, and this change of patterns was comprehensively visualized by the THEME output graphics. In an interdisciplinary project of psychologists and linguists we analyze observed and perceived gendered interaction and gender construction processes at the workplace in same-sex and mixed-sex team conversation (KOCH, KUBAT, KRUSE & THIMM, 2001). The focus is on power-related and support-related behavior as well as on qualities of the behavior, including verbal and nonverbal patterns. A turn- and sequence based coding scheme has been developed to analyze data from 20 teams that have been audio-visually taped during two or three of their routine team meetings at the workplace. Using THEME we were able to find two specific interaction patterns that would not have been easily detected without the help of the software. The multimedia tool THEME, developed by Magnus S. MAGNUSSON from the University of Reykjavik in Iceland, combines different multivariate methods and thus helps to detect behavioral patterns over time that cannot easily be "eyeballed". The program searches for particular types of repeated syntactical real-time patterns based on probability theory, regardless of the unit of behavior. In this article we describe the use of the THEME software and address its potential within social sciences research.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0202187


video analysis; pattern analyses; behavior observation; social interaction; communication; gender; groups; Problem-Based Learning; knowledge co-construction

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Copyright (c) 2002 Sabine C. Koch, Jörg Zumbach

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