Our Thematic Codebook

Analysis of the Open-Ended Survey Results

Codebook Design

It was decided that the survey results would undergo codebook thematic analysis (Braun, et al., 2019), chosen for its ability to analyse culture through the identification of key themes (Opler, 1945).  Firstly, as part of the research design process a codebook or framework (Attride-Stirling, 2001) (a succinct list of expected descriptive themes arising from the study’s sub-questions) was created. An a priori approach was taken in producing the codebook, as codes were formulated in response to the lead researcher’s prior understanding and experience (and their foundations within theory) (Ryan & Bernard, 2003) of the Scottish Early Years context.

In terms of content, the Pre-Survey Codebook was based upon the applicable aspects of the nationally-recognised ‘Comprehensive School Climate Inventory’ (National School Climate Centre, 2019).

In terms of presentation, it was simplified from the typical six components (McLellan-Lemal, et al., 2008) to three (code label, description and example (DeCuirik-Gunby, et al., 2011)). As this codebook was revised pre-survey, expected buzz words/phrases found with high-frequency in the Scottish Government’s literature (particularly ‘Realising the Ambition’ (Education Scotland, 2020), ‘How Good is Our School 4th Edition’ (Education Scotland, 2015), ‘How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare’ (Education Scotland, 2016)) were used as examples, instead of quotes from participants.

Pre-Survey Codebook Page 1
Pre-Survey Codebook Page 1

It is important to note that this initial codebook was recognised as tentative (Ritchie & Spencer, 1994), accepting that data from the survey results could not be forced to fit its a priori issues (Srivastava & Thomson, 2009). In order to increase its reliability (Boyatzis, 1998), the codebook remained open to revision (Gheyle & Jacobs, 2017) throughout the research process.


Codebook Analysis

For the open-ended questions, the Pre-Survey Codebook (above) was used to generate analytical themes, ready for interpretation (Thomas & Harden, 2008). Due to the length of responses, line-by-line coding was chosen to analyse their content (see example below).

In addition, some codes were assigned based upon the essence of the whole response (MacQueen, et al., 2008), particularly when assessing the nature of a participant’s answer as reflective of their ‘Traditional’, ‘All Play’ or Combined (our term replacing ‘Uncertain’) perspective (Fisher, et al., 2008).

WP members used the codebook for analysis independently, with an upcoming meeting planned for moderation. This will include choosing direct quotes to complete the ‘Example’ section and create a codebook unique to our Sharing the Ambition research. Please see below an example of the results that each WP member will bring to our moderation meeting for discussion:

Following moderation with the Working Party the final Sharing the Ambition Codebook was created, below. It was decided that, for each label’s examples, both a representative quote & list of buzz words (that appeared in the survey answers with high frequency) would be included.

The open-ended results that were analysed using the Codebook have been added to the individual Family, Staff & Children’s Survey blog posts.

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