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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Using Sticky Notes for Thematic Analysis in Practitioner Inquiry Projects


Welcome back to another edition of "Wait...what am I suppose to do with all this data I collected?" Yes, that's right folks. We are covering the topic of analyzing data!

Utilizing sticky notes for thematic analysis of video observation data and reflective journaling entries in a practitioner inquiry project can be a hands on and transformative approach to dissecting and understanding the complexities of educational practices.

Let's dive into it!

Step 1: Data Compilation and Sticky Note Creation

Objective: Begin by compiling all the video observation data and reflective journaling entries that you aim to analyze. Ensure that all data is accessible and adequately organized.

  1. Choosing the Right Tool: Opt for a sticky note tool that suits your preferences. Platforms like Mural or other similar digital sticky note boards work excellently for this task.

  2. Creating Sticky Notes: Transform key observations, reflections, and thoughts from your data into sticky notes. Aim to have one idea or observation per sticky note, ensuring that each note is clear and concise.

Step 2: Categorization Using "See, Think, Wonder" Charts

Objective: Categorize the sticky notes under the "See," "Think," and "Wonder" headings. This process aids in the initial organization of your thoughts and observations.

  1. See: Place sticky notes that have direct observations and factual data under this category. These should be objective findings from your video observations and journal entries.

  2. Think: Include sticky notes that encapsulate your interpretations, hypotheses, and personal reflections in this section.

  3. Wonder: This section should house questions, curiosities, and areas where you seek further clarification or exploration.

Step 3: Thematic Clustering

Objective: Group the sticky notes thematically, allowing for patterns, similarities, and disparities to become more apparent.

  1. Sorting Clusters: Engage in a clustering exercise where similar sticky notes are grouped together based on emerging themes and patterns. This process should be judgment-free, focusing only on finding likeness amongst the data.

  2. Naming Clusters: Assign a name or keyword to each cluster, summarizing the central theme or idea of the group.

Step 4: In-depth Analysis and Reflection

Objective: Delve deeper into the clusters, engaging in a process of critical reflection and analysis.

  1. Review Each Sticky Note: Examine each sticky note within a cluster, engaging in reflective thinking and analysis. Determine whether each idea or observation is crucial for your inquiry.

  2. Color-Coding: Assign colors such as green (essential/keep), red (discard), or blue (needs further discussion) to each sticky note based on your judgment of its relevance and importance.

Step 5: Prioritizing and Finalizing Themes

Objective: Prioritize the themes and observations that are most significant to your practitioner inquiry project.

  1. Reviewing and Refining: Revisit the blue (needs further discussion) sticky notes and engage in further reflection and analysis to determine their relevance.

  2. Final Clusters: Ensure that each remaining sticky note is appropriately categorized, and each cluster is well-defined and refined, ready for further action or implementation.

Step 6: Informing Practice through Reflective Exploration

Objective: Utilize the refined themes and insights garnered from the analysis to inform and enhance teaching practices. Engage in reflective exploration to uncover ways to apply the findings practically and effectively.

1. Connecting Insights to Practice: Review the finalized clusters and themes, considering how each insight could practically influence and inform your teaching practices. Identify where changes, adaptations, or enhancements could be made based on your findings.

2. Engaging in Reflective Questions: Explore the following open-ended questions to dive deeper into how your analysis can inform your practice:

  • Question 1: How do the themes and insights uncovered align with my current teaching strategies, and where do discrepancies lie?

  • Question 2: What actionable steps can be derived from the themes to improve or modify specific aspects of my teaching practices?

  • Question 3: In what ways do the findings prompt a reevaluation or reinforcement of my beliefs, assumptions, and approaches in my teaching practice?

3. Continuous Improvement and Adaptation: Allow these reflections and the answers to these questions to be a catalyst for continuous improvement and adaptation in your teaching practices. Ensure that the insights gained are integrated, revisited, and reflected upon regularly, fostering an environment of ongoing learning and development.


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