ATLAS.ti in Social Media Use in Higher Education

May 10, 2016

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This month we interview Smirna Pérez Rodriguez, an undergraduate senior in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida (UCF).  She is part of a research project on social media use in higher education.

Could you tell us something about your university and your research interests

Smirna_Perez_RodriguezWe are a four-year public doctoral institution. We are the second largest university in the nation; enrolling over sixty thousand students total. We offer 210 different degree programs, and we are one of the nation’s most innovative universities as ranked by “US News and World Reports Best Colleges 2016.” Students at UCF come from 50 states and 148 countries. UCF is one of 25 public universities with the Carnegie Foundation’s highest designation in community engagement and very high research activity. I am an English Literature major with a minor in Biology. While at UCF I have taken a lot of science and literature courses, my favorites being Theories of Literature, Feminism and Biochemistry. I hope to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. I did a case study in Biochemistry about Jaundice disease which I found to be really interesting and relevant to some personal family background. I am currently working as a LEAD Scholar at UCF and through that I was able to have the opportunity to be a research assistant to Dr. Stephanie Vie, who is an associate professor at UCF in the Writing and Rhetoric Department. We are working together on a project studying faculty’s use of social media personally, professionally, and in the classroom. I have been using ATLAS.it less than one year.

In what study are you using ATLAS.ti?  Tell us something about it.

The study “Networked Education: Social Media Use in Higher Education Practice” is lead by Dr. Stephanie Vie, associate professor of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida. One of the research objectives is to study the current use of social media by Writing faculty nationwide and to find out how they are incorporating it into their lives and classrooms. We are analyzing Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Skype, Youtube, Linkedin, and other popular social media technologies.

Another research objective was to talk with these faculty members through open-ended interviews about issues that emerge in social media, such as privacy, surveillance, time issues, institutional barriers, etc. We are using grounded theory for our research methodology. The project’s location is entirely online. Faculty members took a survey and completed an interview online. Some of our preliminary findings include concerns with privacy, full curricula does not allow them to incorporate social media, and many faculties do not see the learning outcomes of social media. Findings in favor of social media incorporation in classrooms have shown that social media is relevant to student’s lives and therefore it allows them to understand the issues at hand. Also social media is and will continue to be prevalent and should therefore be included in classroom. These are only some of the findings so far, there have been a variety of different answers which we have continued to code for.

How are you using ATLAS.ti in this project?

Screenshot SmirnaI began by coding survey data by hand and proceeded to re-code it in ATLAS.ti where I expanded the codes and quotations that I had previously used. For example, some of the codes I have created for the project include: time, relevance, rigor, learning outcomes, privacy, and institutional barriers. For example, I used the code rigor to label the responses where faculty expressed concerns about social media being scholarly or academic. I also used the code privacy as a response from faculty fearing the exposure to their students’ social vs. academic lives. ATLAS.ti has served as a good and easy platform to code and has allowed me to create more coding on some of the information I had previously glided over. The highlight of the process has been learning how to condense the answers from the surveys given to the faculty members into one or two words that summarize the survey.

Thank you!

Note from the editor:  Staff from the ATLAS.ti company provided a free group demo webinar to Dr Vie’s students to introduce them to the program.

Contact information

Smirna Pérez Rodriguez

Email address: srpsmirna@knights.ucf.edu

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