Validity Issues In Quantitative Computer Conference Transcript Analysis
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Over the past 15 years, educational technologists have been dabbling with a research technique known as quantitative content analysis (QCA). Although it is characterized as a systematic and objective procedure for describing communication, readers find insufficient evidence of either quality in published reports. In this paper, it is argued that QCA should be conceived of as a form of testing and measurement. If this argument is successful, it becomes possible to frame many of the problems associated with QCA studies under the well-articulated rubric of test validity. Two sets of procedures for developing the validity of a QCA coding protocol are provided, (a) one for developing a protocol that is theoretically valid and (b) one for establishing its validity empirically. The paper is concerned specifically with the use of QCA to study educational applications of computer-mediated communication.