2013 Autoethnographic, Arts-Based, and Narrative Inquiry Research
Autoethnographic Research Joan Vinall-Cox, Ph.D.
Contents‣ Epistemological background and validity‣ The question finds me‣ Discovering my methods‣ Internal and external obstacles‣ Necessary to learn‣ Context
Beginnings• Primary field - teaching communications in a Community College• Classroom - a cultural setting with own norms of behavior• Action research• Participant observation• Dewey - study experience• Russell - “knowledge by acquaintance”
“The Personal is Political”• Postmodern theory - impossible to be objective, significance of the personal experience• Feminist theory -> doubt the possibility of actual objectivity; people always see from where they are• Narrative Inquiry • Tell and ‘unpack’ stories• Ethnography - personal, participatory, cultural research
Narrative Inquiry• John Dewey - experience is both personal and social ‣ Dewey, J. (1963). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.• Narrative - human way of learning - answers why? Plot = meaning• teaching = “expressions of embodied and individual and social stories” ‣ Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000).Narrative inquiry: experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers p.4• Teaching - in new culture of computer and web -> personal and social cultural changes
Autoethnographic Research• Reflexivity - exploring both cause and effect in an emerging classroom culture• Connect personal to cultural, political, and social meanings / understandings• Wanted to be present in my research, not ‘detached’ (postmodern approach)• Explore my experiences in learning to learn from my experience of learning to use computers & web • Open up readers’ consciousness of own experiences -> deepen, speed up learning
Arts-Based• Humans interpret signs -> construct meanings• “[W]e see what we know how to see; we perceive what we have learned how to perceive.” ‣ Vinall-Cox, J. (2004). Following the thread: a writing teachers memories and arts-based transition to a new technology of meaning-making. Toronto: Online.• Materiality of research object - “show and tell” computer’s visual and creative possibilities• Messy, multiple processes of learning - “voices”
Context• College professor teaching English • Students often reluctant, fearful • Students grouped by programs (Multiple Intelligences)• Forced into a new communications environment - the computer and web• PhD looking at computer use teaching writing - late in career = freedom
Challenge• Early 90’s, assigned a course using computers• Hated DOS, technophobic, but only way to stay with the program I liked teaching in• Reluctant but knew techies I could get help from• Knew I could cope when I had to learn something in order to teach it
Learning! Socially• Survived the first iteration of Communications Using a Computer• Determined to know more about web• Institution provided workshops and courses• Joined PD committee in order to learn from more knowledgeable members• My coordinator was very supportive
Learning! Culture• Laptops introduced into program• Became aware of • growing impact of computer and web on our culture • learning demands for using this new tool• Needed to know more about how to learn to use the tool, and how to teach it
The Question Finds Me• The more I learned • The more I recognized a fundamental development in communications and consequently in human culture.• Chirography >>> history, religion, etc.• Printing >>> politics, Enlightenment,• Digital and web >/> unknowable and moving fast
Ph.D. Candidate, 2002: Method• “In research, the methodology used is profoundly affected by the question posed and the question is shaped the choice of the method. What fascinates me, what I want to explore, is my personal experience of learning to write, and to teach writing, using the online computer as a writing and teaching tool”.
I Discover my Method; My Method Discovers Me.• M.Ed - OISE - Teacher-centered• Curriculum Basics - Dr. Connelly • Narrative Inquiry - Experience and Story in Qualitative Research Discovered I get it! The way my mind works!
Observations While Teaching• Many poor writers appeared intuitive in ‘getting’ computer skills• Computers made visual teaching easier• Many initially computer-naive students blossomed when they saw how helpful computer skills could be for their work!• Because I was still new and learning, I knew how to show a step-at-a-time as a teacher
Pedagogical Positions• Aware of impact of dyslexia and other learning differences• Found Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences convincing• Followed a Constructivist approach for teaching language• Used scaffolding and the “Zone of Proximal Development” in curriculum development
Web Observations• Hear students speak of monthly Skyping to home countries to visit with families• Discover a Listserv - communicate with people with similar interest from around the world!• Wikipedia!!!!• Web sites• WebCT• Wikispaces
Return to U of T• Fascinated by computer and web• Aware I’d gone from technophobia to technophilia• Aware that digital skills would become universally necessary• Found ‘worthy’ research - to impact learning by telling stories with computer knowledge embedded in them
Sense of Urgency 2002• Give workshops to fellow PhD candidates • Generating a Table of Contents / Figures• Want to “show and tell” - want teacher- readers to “get” the possibilities ASAP• Want teachers to to learn to use computers & web ASAP
Discovering My Methods• Read more about, and examples of, Narrative Inquiry Took a course on Arts-Based work (and asked prof, Pat Diamond, to be my Ph.D. supervisor)• Read about ethnography - Laurel Richardson’s Fields of Play: Constructing an Academic Life
Internal Hesitations• Before my studies, I had assumed that qualitative research was the only “valid” approach to research • I knew qualitative research was often seen as “subjective”• I had low interest in a quantitative approach (too few teachers of writing using computers to interview)• I wanted to be scholarly (Ended up with 10 pages in my References)
External Problems• School-provided laptops - switched from Windows to Mac partway through thesis • New copy of EndNote needed• Slow acceptance of fellow teachers in learning computer / web skills
Rational Choice• I wanted to demonstrate the impact of the computer, to show my path as a scaffold to help others want to learn the computer and web in teaching (especially writing)• My Question: “I seek to investigate the impact of the online computer on composing and teaching, penetrating to the core of the labyrinth of what it means to be a teacher of writing in this computer-mediated age.”
Necessary to Learn• Computer not typewriter with spell-checker• Needed to know • about fonts and graphic design • how to generate Tables of Contents/Figures • how to use EndNote (or Zotero) • how to use Diigo or Evernote • how to “insert” and other word processing skills
Conclusions‣ The methods shape the research‣ The context of my teaching, learning and studying shaped my choice of methods‣ For my investigation, Arts-Based, Autoethnographic, and Narrative Inquiry approaches made sense and gave me space to explore and learn what I needed to learn‣ Conclusion = my “union of passion and insight mediated by technology” was worthy research
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