I have very mixed feelings about content analysis. At its best, it gives you a new understanding of the world around you. At its worst, which I see all too often, it’s little more than an attempt to salvage mangled fragments of something useful from the wreckage of a questionnaire perpetrated by some sinner who deserves to be locked in a cell for a while with the assorted works of Barbara Cartland being read aloud over the intercom. Accompanied by accordion music.
So what is content analysis, and why do I have such strongly mixed feelings about it? In essence, it’s about analysing the content of texts. The texts may be questionnaire answers or interview answers, or magazine articles, or books, or online forum debates, or just about anything else that’s spoken or written.
Content analysis is usually something that you “grapple with” rather than “do” because it’s a messy, nasty problem. The core dilemna is that the further you get from the original words in the text, the more you risk distorting their meaning; however, the nearer you get to the original words, the less sense you can make of what those words are telling you.
There are various ways of tackling this problem, but none of them provide a perfect solution. The result is that there are numerous types of content analysis, which vary widely in their assumptions, methods, strengths and weaknesses. This article describes a “vanilla flavour” type of content analysis, which is enough for the needs of many students. I’ll look at other types in future articles.
The short answer, in case you were in any doubt, is “No”.
The world won’t end if you fail your exams.
At one level, you already knew that. The planet won’t be destroyed if you don’t get the exam grades you wanted. However, there’s another version of the question that bothers a lot of students. It’s about whether their personal world is going to be destroyed by exam results.
Again, the answer is “No”. This article is about the reasons for that answer. It’s another gentle, supportive article with practical advice. To set the mood, here’s a picture of a sweet little kitten.
I like the story of the Gimli Glider. It’s a feel-good true story, for days when a person needs a feel-good true story; it’s invaluable as a case study for my students; it’s also good for putting problems into perspective on a hard day.
If the name gives you surreal images of a Middle-Earth dwarf wielding an axe in a sailplane, you might be relieved to learn that the reality is very different, though equally surreal in some ways.
It’s the true story of an airliner that ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet, because of a misunderstanding about whether it had been fuelled in litres or in pounds of fuel. At that point, it became the world’s largest glider. The co-pilot recommended an emergency landing at Gimli airfield, which he knew from his days in the Royal Canadian Air Force. The pilot landed successfully, largely because he happened to know a lot about flying gliders. Nobody died; everyone walked away, with feelings of disbelief and massive relief. Even by the standards of movies about fictional aircraft in jeopardy, it’s quite a story.
Images from Wikipedia; details with attributions at the end of this article
Here’s something that should brighten your day without demanding too much mental effort. It’s Japanese idols singing Dschinghis Khan. The song is indeed about the Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, whose name has an impressive number of variant spellings. It had its origins in Eurovision, in 1979, where it was performed by the band Dschingis Khan. I’ll draw a discreet veil over that experience. Anyway, here’s the Japanese idols version.
If you’re trying not to think about life after university because it all feels too scary and depressing, then you’re in good company. Most students feel that way sooner or later.
This article is about other ways of looking at life after university, particularly if you’re scared and/or depressed and/or have no idea what to do next. It’s a gentle article. Here’s a picture of some kittens to set the mood.
Over the last year, we’ve blogged about various aspects of knowledge modelling. That’s allowed us to go into depth about specific topics.
We’re now pulling that information together into a structured format, as an online book. This article contains the core structure of the book, with links to our previous blog articles about the topics within the book. Those articles cover about half of the material that the final version of the book will contain.
We’ve gone for this format, rather than a single downloadable document, because it’s more practical at this point. The knowledge modelling book covers a lot of topics, and even the current partial draft would be a very large document, with a lot of illustrations.
We’ll update this draft fairly frequently, via further blog articles. Some of those articles will be case studies showing how concepts from the book can be applied to real examples. Other articles will be about the broader and deeper context of the book; in particular, the introductory sections and the discussion sections for the main sections. At some point, we’ll put a more reader-friendly version onto the Hyde & Rugg website, which we’re currently updating.