Reflections on the Use of Grounded Theory to Uncover Patterns of Exclusion in an Online Discussion Forum at an Institution of Higher Education

  • Louise Postma North-West University Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Anita Seugnet Blignaut North-West University Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Karen Swan University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, Illinois, United States
  • Erkki A. Sutinen University of Eastern Finland Joensuu, Finland

Abstract

This article reports on an example of grounded theory methodology used in a case study to describe power inequalities among participants in an online forum at a higher education institution in South Africa. Critical poststructuralist theory informs the study as it investigates how hegemony influences the strategic interaction of participants. An interpretive analysis through coding procedures uncovered elements of intensified exclusion, inequality, and oppression. This took place within a virtual space which is theoretically idealized as an equalizer and promoter of freedom of speech. The process involved in the eliciting of voices and in the analysing and interpreting of subjective accounts is described to give an account of disillusioned experiences with a potentially liberating form of technology. The article contributes to qualitative methodology in applying the generic paradigmatic conditions within grounded theory and illustrates both the interrelatedness and the cyclic nature of the conditions within the specific paradigms of participants.

Author Biographies

Louise Postma, North-West University Potchefstroom, South Africa
Louise Postma is a lecturer at the School of Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. She is involved in pre-service training of teachers.
Anita Seugnet Blignaut, North-West University Potchefstroom, South Africa
Seugnet Blignaut is a Research Professor at the School of Continuing Teacher Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. Her field of specialization relates to the role of online facilitators, technology enhanced learning, computers in education.
Karen Swan, University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, Illinois, United States
Karen Swan is the Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and a Faculty Associate in the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield. Karen’s current research interests center on ubiquitous computing, data literacy and online and blended learning. She has been involved with online teaching and learning for over a decade, both as an instructor and as a researcher.
Erkki A. Sutinen, University of Eastern Finland Joensuu, Finland
Erkki Sutinen is Head of Educational Technology at the Department of Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Eastern Finland where he develops novel tools for learners with particular challenges or barriers in learning. He is also active in the field of ICT for Development and works extensively in African states.
Published
2013-10-31
Section
Articles