Barbara Lee – School of Social Work


This activity is conducted at the beginning of class as a way to connect students with one another, establish classroom culture and norm, and introduce students to qualitative research methods.


Students are instructed to individually write a “ground-­rule” or value on a post-­it note that they would like to see practiced in the class throughout the academic term. In small groups of 2 or 3, students are to share and combine their “ground­‐rules” or values into common categories. Once the small groups had some time to share and discuss, they are instructed to stick the post-­it notes on the wall in front of the class and attempt to organize and cluster them into themes. Result: The first step of writing a “ground-­rule” or value is “generating initial codes “in thematic analysis (Bruan & Clarke, 2006). The second step of sharing and combining their “ground-­rules” or values into common categories is “searching for themes”. The third step of combining all post-­‐it notes and attempting to organize and cluster them into themes is the process of “reviewing themes” and “defining and naming themes” in thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).


The exercise actively engages students in learning the qualitative research method of thematic analysis. Students also develop some foundational “ground-­rules” or values that can be drawn upon to throughout the term when working on research projects with one another.