Concept maps as a qualitative data collection method

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  • #3491
    Jacquie
    Member

    I was wondering if there was anyone here who has used or is planning to use concept maps or mind maps for data collection? I am asking participants to draw a concept map of their thoughts about ICT use in schools, to then use to explore their ideas in their drawings through an interview.

    Has anyone done anything similar? I am so interested in visual research methods – expeicall drawings and diagrams.

     

    Cheers,

     

    Jacquie Tinkler

    #3519

    I hadn’t thought of doing this, but it is an interesting idea.  It seems like you could just treat the concept map as just another piece of data.  Maybe thematic analysis or any other analysis method you choose?  Network theory applied to the network that is the concept map?  (That would be cool!)

    #3518
    Jacquie
    Member

    Hi Mary!

    I don’t know much about network theory, but did think it sounded cool! I was going with thematic analysis initially. They will primarily be an artefact to elicit more data through interview, but even the pilot ones I have done are just lovely to look at and so interesting. They do seem to reflect people ideas quite differently.

     

    PS Sorry for the typo in my initial post! I hate that… 🙂

     

    #3517
    Linda Vigdor
    Member

    Jacquie – I used concept maps in my study of art-science collaborations. During individual interviews with the people on the team, I asked each to draw a concept map of the collaboration. One of my favorite parts of a 9 month ethnography.

    Linda Vigdor

    #3516

    I would be interested in what software you might use, and how you might analyze the resulting maps.  I have seen some items in the scholarly literature on this topic but they are mostly about how researchers have used them to organize themes or analyze data from qualitative data collection.  One issue would be whether or not and to what degree the use of a concept mapping software by respondents might bias the data being collected.  Some software packages are pretty easy to use, such as MindMap.  But it might take some training to help respondents to think in terms of the concepts and how to organize their thinking.  On the other hand, perhaps just seeing how respondents do organize the topics could be an interesting aspect of the research.  It seems to me that the more complex the research area, the more difficult it might be for the respondent.  Would love to see where you go with this.

    #3515
    Linda Vigdor
    Member

    Libbie – you make good points about using concept mapping software. Oddly, although all my research participants were programmers or computer artists, I’m fairly certain that injecting a mapping software into the research activity would have been a huge problem. Instruction in how to use it would be one issue, and an imposition on their time. If used in the course of a conversational interview, I think a software activity would have a different impact. What I liked about the hand drawn maps is that they are incredibly organic and unique to each individual. Some concept mapping software allows free form mapping, but most tend to have a ‘look’ and organizational structure, especially if one is a beginner on the tool. Of course, with hand drawn maps, the analysis would proceed differently than with a software facilitated map.

    #3514
    Amanda Hunn
    Participant

    I like using concept maps in qualitiative research and find that some of the commonly  used software packages are very good for this.  On eof the best is Atlas-ti.    You can import your word transcripts into Atlas-ti, code the data identifying themes etc and then you can click on a particular concept and the software will automatically draw you a concept map around that particular concept.  NVivo can also draw concept maps but I think Atlas-ti has the edge. Have a look at their website. 

    I am not convinved that partcipants can always draw their own concept maps as sometimes they do notmake the links or take things for granted.  I have given partcipants copies of maps I have drawn based on interviews and then asked them to draw on th emaps to correct things or add in detail etc

    #3513
    Corina Schmelkes
    Participant

    Reply by Corina Schmelkes (Querétaro Mèxico)

    I  agree Concept maps can be Handled very well through Atlas Ti.  Each new software one uses, is very time consuming to learn and Atlas ti has solved most of my problems.  The important thing about concept maps is the training of those who are going make them.  The first concept maps that a person draws is usually very defective. Training is essential.  I make my students draw concept maps on their Literature Review chapter.  This can help train them for the original presentation made on this discussion.  Don´t forget to remind anyone who writes a concept map to write the links between the concepts.  The links are super important.  

    #3512

    Hi Amanda – When you use NVivo for mapping concepts, which tool do you use? I thought perhaps the Word Tree on Text searches, if expanded to synonyms, would provide something like this. I certainly am intersted in this form of data and analysis. I agree with Corina that it is time consuming to learn software; I am v familiar with NVivo, but wondering what else Atlas-ti could give me that NVivo does not.

    #3511
    Corina Schmelkes
    Participant

    I am not familiar with NVivo, so I cannot really tell.  Perhaps someone who is familiar with both can hellp us out.

    #3510
    Karen Argus
    Member

    I’ve just been reading about mapping and Concept Maps and Mind Maps are quite different. For my research this difference is important. It might be worth looking into … just food for thought.

    #3509
    Linda Vigdor
    Member

    Good point, and I should be more specific! The maps in my research have been mind maps, hand drawn.

     

    #3508
    Jacquie
    Member

    Hi Libbie,

    Even though my area of research is in ICT in Education, I am actually getting my participants to draw their concept maps by had – with good ‘ol fashioned pen and paper. I have done some pilots of the method so far with quite interesting results – some are quite complex and others not as complex and feedback has been useful. Some participants suggested I give them colours to use as well (for example). A key issue that came out of my pilot was that if they had not done concept mapping before, I need to give them a short lesson on what they are and how to do them. And it was SO interesting seeing how they organsied the topics and ideas. But that will indeed cause some difficulties with analysis, but so far it’s a fun challenge – I’m not pulling out my hair just yet. I am doing a presentation on this at ECER in Berlin in September so I need to have it together in my head a little more by then, but it is quite enjoyable I must say! (So far…)

    #3507
    Jacquie
    Member

    Thanks Amanda, you have raised some interesting points. I have NVivo but have not heard of Atlas-ti – I will check that out. I did toy with the idea of having “template” maps, but decided against it in favour of a short ‘lesson on how to do maps. Novak and Cana (2008) gave me some ideas about having a “parking lot” of concepts or a “skeleton map” available for participants to draw from which should help. I also thought I would include a short list of possible linking examples to get those who finding linking difficult started. I want to maintain the openess and freedom for the participants ideas, but not given them “Big blank sheet of paper” anxiety, so hopefully by the time I am done with my pilots, I will have ironed some of those things out. THanks for the ideas!

    #3506
    Karen Argus
    Member

    Hi Amanda,

    Was the map of the person’s prior interview or was it a generic map? I’m working collaboratively to develop maps with my students 1-2-1, but am concerned about bias or leading them. What things did you consider as the issues might have been similar?

     

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