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Educational Research

Chapter 16
Narrative Research
Gay, Mills, and Airasian

Topics Discussed in this Chapter

The definition and purpose of narrative


research
The narrative research process
The types of narrative research
Key characteristics of narrative research
designs
Narrative research data collection
techniques

Definition and Purpose

Narrative research

Definition

The description of the lives of individuals, the collection


of individuals stories of their experiences, and a
discussion of the meaning of those experiences

Purpose

An attempt to increase understanding of central issues


related to teaching and learning through the telling and
retelling of participants stories
Objectives 1.1 and 1.2

Definition and Purpose

Narrative research

Reasons for its popularity

The increased emphasis on teacher reflection, teacher


research, action research, and self-study
The increased emphasis placed on teacher knowledge,
professional development, and decision-making
The increased emphasis on empowering teacher voices
in the educational research process through collaborative
educational research efforts
Objective 1.3

The Narrative Research Process

Eight basic steps

Identify the purpose of the study and identify the


phenomenon being explored
Select an individual in order to learn about the
phenomenon
Pose initial narrative research questions
Describe the researchers role

Entry into the research site


Reciprocity
Ethics
Objective 2.1

The Narrative Research Process

Eight basic steps (continued)

Describe the data collection methods with


particular attention to active interviewing
Describe appropriate strategies for the analysis
and interpretation of data
Collaborate with the participant to construct the
narrative and to validate the accuracy of the story
Complete the writing of the narrative account
Objective 2.1

The Narrative Research Process

Similarity to the steps discussed for all other research


designs
An interactive, personal, collaborative process
characterized by a caring, trusting relationship
between the researcher and participant

The researchers intent is to empower the participant to tell


his or her story
The participant must have equal voice in the relationship
The researcher must actively listen to the participants story
before contributing his or her own perspective
Objectives 2.2 and 2.3

Types of Narrative Research


Autobiographies

Biographies

Life Writing

Personal Accounts

Personal Narratives

Narrative Interviews

Personal Documents

Documents of Life

Life Stories and


Histories

Ethnohistories

Ethnobiographies

Autoethnographies

Ethnopsychologies

Person-centered
Ethnographies

Popular Memories
Objective 3.1

Types of Narrative Research

Five characteristics on which the type of


narrative research is categorized

Who authors the account

The scope of the narrative

The researcher, the participant, or both


An entire life or a single episode

Who provides the story

Teachers, students, parents, friends, etc.


Objective 3.2

Types of Narrative Research

Five characteristics (continued)

The theoretical and/or conceptual


framework that has influenced the study

For example, critical or feminist theory

Whether or not all of these elements are


included in the one narrative

The influence of the disciplines in which


each of these characteristics are
embedded
Objective 3.2

Characteristics of Narrative Research

Six key characteristics

Focus on the experiences of individuals


Concerned with the chronology of an
individuals experiences
Focus on the construction of life stories
based on data collected through active
interviews

Active interviewing emphasizes the


collaborative construction of the story
Objective 4.1

Characteristics of Narrative Research

Six key characteristics (continued)

Uses restorying as a technique for


constructing the narrative account
Incorporates context and place in the story
Reflects a collaborative approach that
involves the researcher and the participant
in the negotiation of the final text

Objective 4.1

Characteristics of Narrative Research

Sources of data

Participants recollections of events or


experiences
Secondary sources such as the participants
journal entries, artifacts, etc.
The nature of these sources implies the researcher
must interact at a very personal level with the
participant to collect data

The need for a relationship based on trust, caring,


respect, and equality to facilitate collecting data as well
as analyzing and interpreting it
Objective 4.2

Narrative Research Techniques

Empirical data is central to narrative


research

The interpretive nature of narrative


research presents concerns for credibility
of the study
Implies the use of multiple data sources,
triangulation, and collaborative negotiation
of the written account
Objective 5.1

Narrative Research Techniques

Six data collection techniques

Restorying
Oral history
Memorabilia
Story telling
Letter writing
Autobiographical and biographical writing
Objective 5.2

Narrative Research Techniques

Two perspectives on data collection, analysis, and


interpretation

Narrative analysis

Analysis of narratives

The kind of narrative that is constructed by the researcher who


has collected descriptions of events through interviews and
observations and synthesized them into stories or narratives
The story is the outcome
The process whereby the researcher collects stories as data
and analyzes them into a set of themes that hold across all of
the stories
The themes are the outcomes

The text focuses on the first of these perspectives

Objective 5.3

Narrative Research Techniques

Restorying

The process in which the researcher gathers stories;


analyzes them for key elements of the story such as the
time, place, or plot; and rewrites the story to place it in a
chronological sequence
Four stages

The researcher conducts the interview and transcribes the data


The researcher re-transcribes the data based on the key
elements that are identified in the story
The researcher organizes the story chronologically
The participant is asked to collaborate with the researcher to
write the final restoried narrative.

A major advantage is that the restoried account is likely to


represent the individuals lived experiences
Objective 5.4

Narrative Research Techniques

Oral history

A method for collecting data from


participants by asking them to share their
experiences
Two ways to develop oral histories

Interviews using structured or unstructured


protocols
Annals and chronicles

The participant constructs a timeline and divides it


into segments of significant events or memories
Objective 5.5

Narrative Research Techniques

Memorabilia

Photos, personal objects, newspaper articles, artifacts, etc.


Such memorabilia can be used by the researcher as prompts
to elicit details about the participants life

Story telling

Telling stories should become a normative part of the data


collection process
The use of many stories can provide researchers with many
opportunities to add to their understanding of the
participants experiences
Objectives 5.6 and 5.7

Narrative Research Techniques

Letter writing

Engaging the researcher and participant in a


dialogue

Facilitated by the use of e-mail

Provides valuable insights into the evolving,


tentative interpretations the participant is
considering
Allows the researcher and participant to reflect on
the evolution of the themes
Objective 5.8

Narrative Research Techniques

Autobiographical and biographical writing

Engaging the participants in writing about their


perceptions of their experiences
Has the potential to broaden the researchers
understanding of past events and experiences that
have impacted the participants experiences

Other narrative data sources

Documents such as lesson plans, newsletters, etc.


Teaching portfolios
Personal philosophies
Objective 5.9

Narrative Research Techniques

Writing the narrative

The final step in the narrative research process


The data collected throughout the study finds its
way into the final written account
The collaboration between the researcher and
participant becomes critical at this point

Objective 5.10