English 881/781: Narrative Inquiry — School Stories & Language Legends Overview

I hope that drafting your Literacy Narrative and your Family Story helped you gain a basic sense of the power of writing stories. Narrative remains one of our most important forms of thought and expression. This next course chapter, School Stories, will help you examine the nature of using Narrative Inquiry as a form of educational research.

The most important book about this research approach is D. Jean Clandinin and F. Michael Connelly’s Narrative Inquiry: Experience and Story in Qualitative Research, first published in 2004. Clandinin and Connelly conducted educational research in Canadian schools. Research in education was heavily quantitative in its orientation for decades.

Quantitative research is based on statistical models that look for generalizable patterns in data. But as public school teachers, Clandinin and Connelly were interested in individualization and outliers. They, and others, developed the use of narrative for educational research as a way to gain deeper understanding of school teachers and students.

One of the key aspects of writing an educational narrative is figuring out how to weave outside sources into the text. This is known as framing, in which the writer offers an interpretation of the story grounded on outside research. I will ask you to frame your School Story in order to gain experience with this technique.

Narrative Inquiry research that is published in the fields of Composition Studies, Applied Linguistics, and Education primarily focuses on studies of classrooms, students, and teachers.