As both quantitative and qualitative data will be collated for the main study via surveys and interview, different approaches to data analysis will be taken.
With regards the data analysis of the quantitative data from the survey, the use of nominal scales for questions relating to demographics, and ordinal scales operating on the Likert scale principles will be utilised, thus considered non-parametric.
In the analysis of the data a one-tailed test may be applied to test the hypothesis that those learners associating engagement with open courses as related to an extrinsic professional or academic goal in comparison to a leisure learner, are more likely to engage with the course until completion, with leisure learners being more succinct and sporadic in their engagement strategy. The analysis of the data should define whether variables, such as academic and professional current positioning and future goals bear any relation to the learners perception of, and engagement with the open courses and what linear or non-linear relationships can be drawn from this.
To ensure reliability in the data analysis SPSS will be used, especially in taking into consideration the large-scale data expecting to be received via the surveys. It is proposed that the split-half technique be applied in conjunction with the use of SPSS. Data will then be tabulated for expression within the text, and data visualisations in the form of graphs, pie charts, etc. only to be displayed where it adds greater value to the analysis beyond the use if frequency and percentage tables.
The secondary element of analysis will be for the qualitative data acquired through data collection from the interviews following the survey. To amalgamate the key issues emerging from the transcriptions a combination of progressive focusing (Parlett and Hamilton, 1976), content analysis (Ezzy, 2002: 83, Anderson and Arsenault, 1998: 102) and grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin, 1994: 273) will be used, initially taking a wide angle approach to gather the data from interviews across the three data sets, to then through sorting, coding, reviewing, and reflection upon the responses given to systematically gather and analyse the data.
Through typological analysis (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993: 257) the three data sets the organising of the data can firstly be ordered in the three platform groups, then reviewed and organised as individuals to ascertain whether any themes or frequencies through the application of secondary coding (Miles and Huberman, 1984) emerge that allow the organisation of the data by issue to analysis plausibilities as whether it can be organised by research question. The following of Brenner et al’s (1985) steps to content analysis in conjunction with the organisation of the data into groups should ensure reliability in its interpretation.