School of Education Qualitative Software Fair & Symposium 2014

At the Software Fair & Lunch

At the Software Fair & Lunch.

Faculty and graduate students from across campus shared their experiences with qualitative data analysis software at the first-ever School of Education Qualitative Software Fair & Symposium. The event took place on March 28 in the Educational Sciences Building and Teacher Education Building, and featured a guest keynote, as well as four breakout sessions with seven presentations on the use of qualitative software in research projects at UW Madison. The event was attended by over 50 faculty and students from across campus.

A central part of the event was the Software Fair: an informal opportunity for researchers to connect with colleagues who are using a variety of software packages in their research. Thanks to campus experts in NVIVO, MAXqda, Transana, QDA Miner, Dedoose who were available for engaging conversations over lunch.  Attendees took the opportunity for dialogue and discussion, and MERIT’s QDA Software Exploration workstation.


Impressions from the Symposium Sessions. Photos: Addison Pierskalla

In his opening keynote, Prof Emilio Spadola (Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Colgate University) gave compelling insight into his journey to using QDA software as a core element of his qualitative methods course, and he pointed out technical, epistemological, and curricular challenges and potentials involved with the process. The deep connection between the production of knowledge and a digital tool was revisited in a session by Prof. Audrey Trainor (Rehab Psych and Special Ed), who discussed ontological and epistemological implications of using Qualitative Data Analysis Software.


Impressions from the Symposium Sessions. Photos: Addison Pierskalla

The sessions were a testament to the diversity of qualitative research approaches and software use in the UW research community.  Prof. Compton-Lilly, Jieun Kim, Erin Quast and Patricia Venegas (C&I) demonstrated how they use NVIVO as a research team in a longitudinal study; Prof. Tonya Brito (Law School), Amanda Ward (Sociology) and Stefanie Wong (Educational Policy Studies) illustrated the role and integration of MAXQDA into their team-based project.  Bethany Wilinski illustrated the pros and cons of Dedoose as a tool for the analysis of ethnographic data, and Prof. Rachelle Winkle-Wagner and Tangela Reavis (ELPA) demonstrated how they use NVIVO as a data management tool for their complex qualitative dataset. Two sessions focused on handling and analyzing video and audio data: David Woods (WCER), lead developer of Transana, demonstrated Transana’s potential for video analysis and data transcription. Amanda Barany and Jilana Boston (Games+Learning+Society Center) described their experiences with using the transcription software f4 when preparing data for import into the analysis software MAXQDA.

At the closing, Christian Schmieder shared a new video resource, “Four Basic Functions of Qualitative Data Analysis Software” now posted on the QDA web site.

We thank all presenters and participants for making the first-ever Software Fair & Symposium such a vibrant and informative event. Special thanks go to SSCC for co-sponsoring the event, and to our amazing team of volunteers: Anne Karabon, Amanda Ochsner, Brian Danielak, Joseph Zeller, Addison Pierskalla and Adam Wiesenfarth.

Christian Schmieder & Catherine Stephens, Co-Chairs