The purpose of this article is to describe an alternative method for transcribing and transforming (analyzing and interpreting) oral data collected from interviews. Rather than record and then immediately transcribe data, the “oral coding” approach relies on a Three-Phase Approach. Phase One involves extended and reflective listening to the original interview data. This extended time with data in its original oral form enables researchers to construct both propositional and tacit knowledge in relation to the phenomenon being investigated. Intensive encounters with the original data are continued during the Second Phase of analysis and interpretation by re-recording on another device those segments that are thought to be potentially thematic as well the researcher’s own reflective and interpretive comments in relation to these segments. Finally, in Phase Three, using a combination of keyboarding and optionally voice recognition software, both in vivo quotes and researcher reflections are transcribed to text and organized by research question. This entire Three Phase process is intended to transform raw data into understandable accounts by allowing researchers to “hang on” to the original oral data for an extended time thus delaying reduction to text and thereby enabling researchers to capture participant nuances conveyed through tone, inflection, volume, pause, and emphases. Consequently, this method may have the potential to promote a higher degree of credibility and trustworthiness. Experience to date provides limited support for this process based on a previously published article (Bernauer, Semich, Klentzin, & Holdan, 2013) that used both traditional and oral coding and another article (Bernauer, 2015) that used only oral coding. It is hoped that colleagues try out this method and “transform” it based on their own creative insights.


Coding, Oral Coding, Tacit Knowledge, Transforming Data

Author Bio(s)

James A. Bernauer is an Associate Professor at Robert Morris University in the School of Education and Social Sciences. His primary interests are in pedagogy and student learning (Pre-12 and higher education) and research methodology. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: James A. Bernauer at Email: bernauer@rmu.edu

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