Using stories and symbols as evidence

Professor of Learning Analytics and Educational Leadership at University of Technology Sydney
May. 23, 2013

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Using stories and symbols as evidence

  1. Using stories and symbols as evidence How to collect and analyse data Learning Together
  2. Data collection methods • Stories • Observation
  3. What is Narrative Inquiry? • The methodological use of story • Focuses on the ways in which people make and use stories to interpret the world • Narratives are not „simply‟ a set of facts – social products produced by people within the context of social, historical and cultural locations • Interpretive devices through which people represent themselves • Rather than „what happened‟ – „what is the significance of this event‟?
  4. The Narrative Inquiry Research Process • Research process „unfolds‟ – common not to have very specific research questions at the outset • Discrete activities of research – theoretical frameworks, data collection and analysis, literature review – often woven together • Research process itself is as important as the research – and often becomes a story • Often begins with the “researcher‟s autobiographically oriented narrative associated with the research puzzle” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; 40)
  5. The Narrative Inquiry Research Process • Stresses the „journey‟ (of the research) over the „destination‟ • Less likely to have specific outcomes
  6. What are the Research Methods/Strategies • Gathering of stories in any form – visual, written, oral • Narrative interviewing • “Actions, doings and happenings” – unanticipated narratives • Researcher‟s autobiographical experiences
  7. Narrative Interviewing “When the interview is viewed as a conversation – a discourse between speakers – rules of everyday conversation apply: turn taking; relevancy; and entrance and exit talk to transition into, and return from a story world (Riessman, 2004; 709)”.
  8. Narrative Interviewing • Invites stories that are meaningful for the narrator – rather than assume s/he has answers to questions researcher might pose • A “discursive accomplishment” (Riessman, 2004; 709) – two active participants produce meaning together • Story will differ – depending on teller and listener • Audience has a part to play • The „Western‟ structure of a story
  9. Narrative Inquiry and Educational Research • Concern with representation and voice – focus is on stories of teachers and learners – meanings that they give to their experiences • Seeks to „give voice‟ to minorities – „others‟ whose voices are not always heard • Need for greater diversity of voices to avoid inappropriate dominance of „majority‟ voices • Particularly suited to practitioner research
  10. Thematic Narrative Analysis • Emphasis is on „what‟ is said • Minimal focus on „how‟ it is said • Strives to keep the „story‟ intact for interpretive purposes – determining a story‟s boundaries difficult and highly interpretive • Generic explanations rejected – time and place of narration attended to • Theorises from a single „case‟ – rather than the themes across (as in much grounded theory) - although… • Data may be gathered together to produce an „emplotted‟ narrative
  11. Data Analysis - Dialogic/Performance Analysis • Makes selective use of thematic and structural analysis and adds other dimensions • Thematic analysis interrogates „what‟; structural analysis interrogates „how‟; dialogic/performance analysis asks „who‟, „when‟ and „why‟? • Invites readers to engage with the text • „Risks‟ when we open our work to „different‟ readings – are all meanings plausible? • Interpretation must be linked to features in the text, including how it is organised • Researcher can bring information from the interview context – other readers may not have access to this
  12. Data Analysis - Dialogic/Performance Analysis • Interrogates how talk is interactively („dialogically‟) produced and „performed‟ as narrative • „Performative‟ – identities situated and accomplished with an audience in mind • Requires close reading of contexts, including the influence of researcher, setting and social circumstances on the production and interpretation of narrative • The response of the listener and ultimately the reader/audience is implicated in the art of storytelling • Intersubjectivity and reflexivity come to the fore – dialogue between researcher and researched, text and reader, knower and known • Research report becomes a story with readers the audience
  13. Aim of observation • Observation = “to watch, to attend to…” (Oxford English Dictionary) • generally natural behaviour • Aim: collection of information about the world with the intention of guiding behaviour (indirectly) through the production of public knowledge which can be used by others • is planned and systematic • is recorded and interpreted systematically • is subject to validity checks to check accuracy
  14. Types of observation More structured Less structured • Aim = to collect accurate quantitative data – (patterns) • Pre-structured categories (for analysis) • observation schedule • Aim = to get detailed qualitative description of human behavior that illuminate social meanings & shared culture, to develop a theory (eg grounded theory) • Minimum pre-structuring • Observer is open- minded
  15. Different Contexts The context is usually chosen by the researcher, but may also be varied by the researcher • How structured? – Does activity follow some sequence that can be anticipated? • How naturalistic? – How is the context being influenced by the researcher? …. (CF. role of the researcher)
  16. What can be observed? • Non-verbal behaviour & actions • Use of space • What is said • Language content and structure • Extra-verbal data; who is speaking, how often, who interrupts whom, who speaks quietly/loudly (Deem et al 1995) • Strategies & processes (eg pedagogies, assessment)
  17. How to record information • Fieldnotes • Audio-videorecording • Go through notes and tapes straight after to check and put in order • Try to keep a field diary • Evernote and images via a phone • Audio & video-recording allows: • More details + More accuracy • Permanent record - More complex and careful analysis
  18. Image and Symbol as mediators of meaning The wedge tailed eagle symbolises strategic awareness: (a) able to spiral high in the sky to look for prey; (b) patient, strategic and smart; (c) stealthy; (d) confident and self-aware; (e) able to use aerodynamics; (f) able to understand invisible things; and (g) able to see the big picture.
  19. LI I I I I I I I I I I I I I I EnquiryBlogger
  20. Student K: If you have a look later it would look really different to what I am [now] . . . I put changing and learning in but you can‟t see the difference in me now. The snake like sheds its skin to grow and that like means like when I grow up I‟ll collect more, get more detail and that into it and the platypus is Dad [who] teaches me about pocket watches. Researcher: And what would you think the differences in you are now? Student K: Like enjoying myself, looking more into stuff and that. Researcher: What have been the most important things that you think have helped you change a bit like that? Is it that you‟ve found something that you‟re really interested in and want to explore or . . . ? Student K: Yeah, yes it is. Yeah, it‟s like looking for treasure.