Which Approach?

Decision Tree for Choosing an Approach to MDA

Chapter One in the LTMM Nexus Analysis book provides illustrations of different approaches for analyzing action, materials, and literacies. These approaches overlap and are closely related to nexus analysis, with slight differences in their guiding focus and the kinds of data sources that are needed. The following decision tree is meant to help you clarify your questions and decide on a path for analysis as you use this website.

What is your primary focus? What kinds of questions are you raising? For example, how will you discover what's happening? An ethnographic approach may observe everyday activity and simply ask people what they think is going on here. A multimodal analysis observes how people are using the immediate environment by looking at modes as clues to social relationships, while nexus analysis digs into histories to look behind the scene to uncover how an observable action is shaped by cultural expectations. Geosemiotics examines images and artifacts to see how they anticipate particular users and their responses to messages embedded in the designs of physical things and places, while actor network theory closely examines an action to open new possibilities, looking critically at the relationships among people and things and their movements along global networks.

What kinds of data can you gather? Different contexts allow different sorts of data collection; this can affect your choice of an analytic approach. You may not be able to video-record in your location and need to instead use fieldnotes to record activity. Or you may have a collection of photos or artifacts and you want to look at how people read and respond to their designs, histories, or placement. The kind data you collect will influence the selection of an analytic approach.

The decision tree below shows samples of the questions and kinds of data that could work with each approach. The data examples in the chart are not comprehensive and are meant to suggest the range of data sources that could work well with each approach. It's not necessary or desirable to gather all the data sources listed under an approach.