I am currently in the middle of the largest section of my project – analyzing the interview data. I have transcripts of the US and China elementary school teacher interviews that Dr. Grant, Stronge, and Xu conducted, and am using a process called coding to analyze them. This process involves separating the content of the interviews into broader categories, which all pertain to aspects of being an effective teacher. Once the content is sorted into categories, both a priori categories (which I will be taking from Dr. James Stronge’s Qualities of Effective Teachers) and new categories that emerge while coding the interviews, I can place the sorted content into separate documents by code. From here, I will be able to look at any patterns or exceptions among the teachers from one country, and then compare and contrast the two countries.

The a priori codes that I am using include prerequisites/qualifications, classroom management and organization, planning and organizing for instruction, implementing instruction, and monitoring student progress and potential. From these, I have been analyzing the transcripts to determine how each sentence, section, opinion or thought should be categorized.  Whenever a piece doesn’t fit into any of the above categories, I look at whether I can create a new category. This involves two considerations. Does it fall under the same topic as other pieces that also didn’t fall under the original codes? Does it discuss an issue or topic that is important and distinct from the original codes? If the answer to these is yes, I create a new category. I can then use this new category to sort any more similar pieces that appear in the transcript in question, and then go back through all the transcripts that I’ve already coded and re-categorize if necessary.

This process has many challenges. The creation of new codes, as already mentioned, involves analyzing all the transcripts that I’ve already coded. If a particular idea or thought proves difficult to classify, I must re-evaluate the new codes that I’ve created. Sometimes I end up merging two of the new codes, sometimes file a new code back under one of the original codes, and sometimes must split either the original codes or the new codes into separate codes to account for subsets that should be considered on their own. I must continually refine the list of codes and continually read and re-read and re-read again so all the pieces fall under the code that they most closely fit. I’m very excited to get through the rest of the transcripts so that I can finally solidify my code list.