Week 6

10/08/2020 – 14/08/2020

In our final week we completed the thematic analysis, this involved swapping our transcripts to peer review each other’s initial codes which describe the data. In this process, we came across commonalities between the three groups. In the next phase of thematic analysis, we began looking for common themes which gave us the opportunity to interpret the data. As we started doing this, we noticed that some of the themes which emerged were the same as the areas assessed in the interviews. To overcome this difficulty, one of our supervisors suggested that we identify themes within each interview area (diagnosis, disclosure, impact, strategies, support, accessibility). We found this was an effective way of breaking down the analysis, and it led to us being able to design a thematic map. We took this map to our group supervision to talk through our findings. Following this, we removed themes which merely described the data, rather than interpreting it. We also grouped similar themes together to simplify our data and removed themes which were only relevant to specific interviews. We found this analysis challenging because the process took a long time, as it involved lots of refining, meaning we could not foresee the end result. However, looking back it was important to spend time on this process to ensure the themes truly reflected students’ experiences.

At the beginning of this week, we closed the survey 18 days after its launch. In total, we received 108 responses. Although our target was higher (150), we feel that we still received a successful number of responses considering the time restraints of the project and the fact that our recruitment could only be done online, which limited our reach. To illustrate the success of our promotion, approximately 900 participants viewed the information page of the survey. This shows the interest from the wider university community in our research topics.

To analyse the survey, we exported the data and created graphs to illustrate descriptive information of the sample. We also conducted statistical tests using SPSS, to conduct comparisons between each of the conditions. We found this daunting as we were conducting it independently, after each of us not having used it for over a year. However, we were fortunate to have access to a UROP support group made up of PhD students and other UROP students and supervisors where we were able to ask research questions, we were unsure about. Later in the week, we met with one of our supervisors to discuss our statistical findings. In doing this, we realised a few mistakes had been made, however these were easily corrected.

This week we also conducted content analysis on the open questions of the survey. This involved us reading through responses and categorising the answers. From this, we were able to identify the frequency of different responses to create quantitative output. We found this process less time consuming than the thematic analysis as it was less interpretive and there were clearer categories. Analysing these questions was a great opportunity to gain more insight into the respondents’ answers as the majority of the survey consisted of closed questions.

Also, this week we attended a careers webinar on the screencast and written submission for our UROP posters. We learnt how to use the Screencast-O-Matic tool to record the audio for our presentations. We had initial concerns about how to summarise our project in 6 minutes, however we learnt that we can cover different information to what is written on the posters. We are apprehensive about doing separate posters, as we have worked jointly for the 6-week duration. Although, we appreciate this will be a chance to showcase our projects from our own perspectives with a focus on each of our research areas (Mental Health Conditions, Specific Learning Difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorder).

At this point in time, we were expecting to have completed our projects, however this is not the case as there are still ongoing tasks. Due to the quality of our data, we plan to present our findings to various departments at the University and potentially publish our work. Nonetheless, we are excited for the opportunities which may arise going forwards as we feel strongly passionate about improving student experiences, after hearing from students directly. As students ourselves, we connected with how difficult some of these experiences must have been and hope that our findings make some positive changes.

Post written by: Bryony, Charis and Michelle.