However, teaching such skills can be challenging, particularly when instructing large groups of students; the topics covered can be diverse and the subjective nature of qualitative coding can prove difficult for some students to comprehend.
E-Qual (see screenshot above) is a free interactive iPad app available on the App Store. Developed by Dr Hilary McDermott, it aims to address some of these challenges by demonstrating the basic concept of coding qualitative data. In addition to an instructive screencast, students are provided with the opportunity to code a section of data themselves and compare their coding with that of the researcher. In using ‘E-Qual’ to support their independent learning and understanding of the thematic coding process, it is anticipated that students will be able to develop understanding and confidence in their analytic approach to handling qualitative data. The app offers students a technology-supported learning environment to compliment the teaching of thematic qualitative coding which can be used at any time within any setting.
This teaching aid could potentially support thousands of students within the UK and elsewhere internationally. It offers an additional teaching and learning resource which will complement direct, face-to-face teaching of qualitative research methods across the Social Sciences.
E-Qual had initial seed funding from a University Teaching Innovation Award with further funding from the Enterprise Office.