Categorizing Qualitative Data from Open-Ended Questions

The information obtained from open-ended questions can be impactful. Categorizing the qualitative data from open-ended questions is helpful to organize the messaging as data is shared. Here are the steps that the OERI Project Team followed to create a spreadsheet:

  • Team created themes (buckets) based on the student comments 
  • The student comments could then be grouped by themes
  • A spreadsheet was created with the comments on the far-left column and themes across the top row
  • Once the spreadsheet was created, themes were “ticked” for each comment
  • Once all comments where input and themes “ticked,” trends could be discovered and shared

Here are categories (themes) the team developed based on the comments in the open-ended questions: 

  • Convenience/remove barrier to study/easy to access material anytime 
  • Better quality/enjoy material/supports success
  • Peace of mind/stress free/can relax
  • Cost/affordability
  • Prefer other formats/print/non-digital
  • General/other

Here is an example spreadsheet of how the initial pilot results were categorized. Comments proved helpful in presenting data accompanied by anecdotes and sharing statements that resonated with stakeholders. Comments were also used to help shape questions for the student videos portion of the toolkit.