Our purpose in writing this article is to describe the use of online data sources (such as blogs and microblogs) in a qualitative analysis learning project for graduate occupational therapy students. The project was designed to meet the following learning objectives: (1) increase students’ understanding and appreciation for qualitative research principles and methods, (2) increase students’ ability to use thematic and narrative analysis procedures with authentic data sets, and (3) increase students’ ability to apply qualitative findings to occupational therapy practice. This article describes the project’s theoretical rationale, components, objectives, implementation, and informal outcomes, along with a discussion of strengths and limitations of this project and suggestions for future research. This project demonstrates one way in which publicly available online data sources can be used to create an effective graduate qualitative analysis learning activity. We are sharing this innovative learning project in the hopes that it may be of interest to our colleagues in higher education and may contribute to the ethical and scholarly use of online data in learning assignments.


blogs, learning assignment, narrative analysis, qualitative analysis, social media

Author Bio(s)

Sunny R. Winstead, EdD, OTR/L is Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Keuka College. Dr. Winstead has been an occupational therapist for over 20 years, with clinical experience in adult and community practice. Her scholarly interests include occupational therapy education, community-based practice, and competency development. Please direct correspondence to swinstead@keuka.edu.

Christopher J. Alterio, Dr.OT, OTR/L is Division Chair and Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Keuka College. Dr. Alterio has been an occupational therapist for over 30 years, with experience in community private practice and initial/ongoing competency development. His scholarly interests include occupational therapy history, theory, and pediatric interventions. Please direct correspondence to calterio1@keuka.edu.


We would like to thank our former graduate students Joseph Maier, MS, OTR/L and Nina Fusco, MS, OTR/L for agreeing to share their perspectives for this article.

Publication Date


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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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