Narrative inquiry is relatively new among the qualitative research designs compared to qualitative case study, phenomenology, ethnography, and grounded theory. What distinguishes narrative inquiry is it beings with the biographical aspect of C. Wright Mills’ trilogy of ‘biography, history, and society’(O’Tolle, 2018). The primary purpose for a narrative inquiry study is participants provide the researcher with their life experiences through thick rich stories. Narrative inquiry was first used by Connelly and Calandinin as a research design to explore the perceptions and personal stories of teachers (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). As the seminal authors, Connelly & Clandinin (1990), posited:
Although narrative inquiry has a long intellectual history both in and out of education, it is increasingly used in studies of educational experience. One theory in educational research holds that humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives. Thus, the study of narrative is the study of the ways humans experience the world. This general concept is refined into the view that education and educational research is the construction and reconstruction of personal and social stories; learners, teachers, and researchers are storytellers and characters in their own and other's stories. In this paper we briefly survey forms of narrative inquiry in educational studies and outline certain criteria, methods, and writing forms, which we describe in terms of beginning the story, living the story, and selecting stories to construct and reconstruct narrative plots.
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First, the applied doctoral manuscript narrative inquiry researcher should recognize that they are earning a practical/professional based doctorate (Doctor of Education), rather than a research doctorate such as a Ph.D. Unlike a traditional Ph.D. dissertation oral defense where the candidates focus is on theory and research, the NU School of Education applied doctoral candidate presents their finding and contributions to practice to their doctoral committee as a conceptual professional conference level presentation that centers on how their study may resolve a complex problem or issue in the profession. When working on the applied doctoral manuscript keep the focus on the professional and practical benefits that could arise from your study. If the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE) student is unsure as to whether the topic fits within the requirements of the applied doctoral program (and their specialization, if declared) they should reach out to their research course professor or dissertation chair for guidance. This is known as alignment to the topic and program, and is critical in producing a successful manuscript. Also, most applied doctoral students doing an educational narrative inquiry study will want to use a study site to recruit their participants. For example, the study may involve teachers or college faculty that the researcher will want to interview in order to obtain their stories. Permission may be need from not only the NU Institutional Review Board (IRB), but also the study site. For example, conducting interviews on campus, procuring private school district or college email lists, obtaining archival documents, etc.
The popularity of narrative inquiry in education is increasing as a circular and pedagogical strategy that lends itself to the practical application of research (Kim, 2016). Keep in mind that by and large practical and professional benefits that arise from a narrative inquiry study revolve around exploring the lived experiences of educators, education administrators, students, and parents or guardians. According to Dunne (2003),
Research into teaching is best served by narrative modes of inquiry since to understand the teacher’s practice (on his or her own part or on the part of an observer) is to find an illuminating story (or stories) to tell of what they have been involved with their student” (p. 367).
From Haydon and van der Riet (2017)
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