701 Meaning of Home

Oral history corpus affinity diagramming

This project identified pathways for seventh grade students from an ethnically diverse public school in NYC to surface commonalities among them using oral history and qualitative data analysis.
My supervisor, a teacher from the school, and myself co-developed and co-taught Meaning of Home for grade 7 as a social studies unit in the spring of 2018 and 2019. Through the unit, students interviewed their parents (predominantly immigrants) as well as community members on Roosevelt Island about what home meant to them, what their childhood homes were like, and what it would take to make the island feel more like a home. Students then went through a scaffold data analysis processes. The process led to a shared notion of home across the class: Whether parents grew up in Dhaka or Brooklyn, home to them (and their off springs) meant being with family, out in nature, having good food, achieving dreams, and making memories.

We created paper interview packets which the student took with them on their oral history collection journeys. Once students interviewed their parents, we transcribed them, made a paper coding package for each transcript, and asked each student to code their transcript and that of a fellow student. We then did an affinity diagraming at a group level (3-5 students). Once each group had refined and consolidated similar codes, they categorized them in pre-defined theme buckets (that we generated by coding the interview ourselves). From there, we did a class-level affinity mapping. Students also conducted nlp-like analysis on the transcripts by counting the most frequent words. We built a tool for computing word frequencies both on the entire transcript corpus as well as the parts associated with certain codes. Students triangulated their analysis with that the tool revealed.

Unit components
Oral history interview packet
Students conducting interviews at a local long-term care hospital
Transcript coding packet
In-class transcription activity
Student coded transcript
Group level thematic extraction
Ongoing categorization
Custom built transcript word counting tool
Meaning of Home website