Assess teaching

Reporting qualitative results

Present repeating ideas that lead to major themes that inform conclusions and recommendations.

Repeating ideas lead to themes, which lead to conclusions

Repeating ideathe same idea expressed by different respondents. After identifying and labeling repeated ideas during initial coding, present the ones that seem most meaningful. With smaller samples (fewer than 20 responses), provide the number of respondents who expressed the same ideas but avoid using percentages. With larger samples, use percentages as well.

When reporting findings, quote one or two responses that exemplify the repeating idea. You may also want to quote a response that was an exception to illustrate a minority opinion or highlight a noteworthy idea. If so, you should state that it is only one person’s response.


Five students wrote that using the Classroom Performance System during lectures did not increase their understanding of course concepts. For example, one student wrote, “The questions we answered using the CPS were so basic, they didn’t help me understand the ideas which were confusing. Once we answered the warm-up questions, there was no time for follow-up questions.” The repeating ideas that emerged were:  using the CPS did not promote deeper understanding of concepts and the instructor did not leave time for follow-up questions.

Theme—a topic that organizes a group of repeating ideas. Themes are usually developed during focused coding, but may emerge at any time.


From the identification of two other repeating ideas about the CPS—1) the system limited class discussion time and 2) the system did not help students learn how to solve quantitative problems—a theme emerged:  CPS limited discussion and application of concepts.  

Making conclusions/recommendations—a determination of what is working well and what needs to be improved based on repeating ideas and themes.  Themes and repeating ideas should guide you in recommending or making improvements.  


Based on survey responses, the instructor decided that he would focus on using the Classroom Performance System to promote classroom discussion and review quantitative problems.

Presenting results in graphical form

To supplement text, findings may also be presented in a table/matrix, concept map, or Venn diagram. Use a table to summarize results and conceptual relationships.

Assessment of the Classroom Performance System (CPS) in chemistry
Repeating idea Theme Recommendations
  • CPS did not promote deeper understanding of course concepts
  • Instructor did not leave time for follow-up questions
  • CPS limited class discussion time
  • CPS did not help students solve quantitative problems

CPS limited discussion and application of concepts

  • Ask more conceptual questions using CPS
  • Use CPS to spur discussion
  • Leave more class time to review quantitative problems

Consider using a concept map to show the interrelationship of concepts within a topic, as in this example for human nutrition:

tree diagram depicting the interrelationship of several different elements involved with human nutrition

Use a Venn diagram to show broad relationships between concepts.

venn diagram showing improved learning as the overlap between encouraging participation and student empowerment

Additional information

Auerbach, C.F. & Silverstein, L.B. (2003). Qualitative Data: An Introduction to Coding and Analysis.
New York: New York University Press.

Human Nutrition concept map (n.d.) Retrieved October 5, 2004 from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Education Web site: http://www.fed.cuhk.edu.hk/~johnson /misconceptions/concept_map/human_nutrition_2.html.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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