Quantitative Ethnography

David Williamson Shaffer’s talk “Quantitative Ethnography” (Aarhus, 2016):

The ability to teach and assess the development of complex thinking skills is crucial for 21st century educational research. In the age of educational games and the Big Data they generate, we have more information than ever about what students are doing and how they are thinking. But as the sheer volume of data available can overwhelm traditional qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Quantitative Ethnography is a set of research methods that weave the study of culture together with statistical tools to understand learning—a way to go beyond looking for arbitrary patterns in mountains of data that games and simulations generate and begin telling textured stories at scale.

This talk provides an overview of the science of Quantitative Ethnography, and a preview of two key tools that researchers can use to assess complex thinking in games and simulations. The first tool is Epistemic Network Analysis, a network modeling technique for modeling learning in Big Datasets. The second is nCoder, which supports the development and validation of codes—both automated codes and inter-rater reliability in traditional hand coding procedures.


Also visit PLAYTrack Site to view other presentations from this series at Aarhus University.

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This work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (DRL-0918409, DRL-0946372, DRL-1247262, DRL-1418288, DRL-1661036, DRL-1713110, DUE-0919347, DUE-1225885, EEC-1232656, EEC-1340402, REC-0347000), the MacArthur Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The opinions, findings, and conclusions do not reflect the views of the funding agencies, cooperating institutions, or other individuals.