Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

David Bills

Second Advisor

Richard Fumerton

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to assess issues that arise in the context of epistemological claims in narrative educational research by means of narrative analysis and epistemological evaluation. The research questions which guided the study were: 1) To what extent is epistemology considered by narrative educational researchers?; 2) What issues do narrative educational researchers perceive when capturing participant testimony?; 3) What procedures do narrative educational researchers carry out which assure of methodological rigor?; and 4) What additional procedures, either before, during or after a study, can narrative educational researchers carry forth to assure that the research is the most meaningful for the researcher, the participant and anyone else who reads the research study? I applied multiple methods to address these questions, narrative thematic analysis and epistemological evaluation. Research participants included four narrative educational researchers.

First, based on interviews, and after two rounds of open coding, narrative thematic analysis provided several themes which emerged based on the testimony provided by the research participants. Following the creation of themes, I completed the narrative thematic analysis by discussing how participant responses fit within the themes. Second, I epistemologically evaluated the quality of narrative educational research by relying on epistemological theory and concepts found in philosophical literature. The theoretical foundation for this work arose from developments that largely build and extend from classical reductionist and nonreductionist positions on the epistemology and social epistemology of testimony.

Results from the evaluation provided a mix of strengths and weaknesses epistemologically, and therefore methodologically, in narrative educational research. Positively, I found strength in the methodological approach of building a close relationship between researcher and participant, and strength is found in a level of triangulation to address validity concerns. For weaknesses, I found that too much trust is offered by the researcher to the participant, both in themselves as well as in their testimony. Relatedly, accuracy in recall from memory and the dearth of concern about truth also presented issues. I recommended that in working to assure that trust is offered and justified by both the speaker and hearer, with greater concern to accuracy and truth, testimonial beliefs are more likely to be warranted. Future studies can focus on the inclusion of teachers, students and principals to provide additional insight, and a combining of a rich conceptual framework with a rigorous analytic approach to maintain the strengths of narrative research in education while addressing the weaknesses.

Keywords

analysis, epistemology, evaluation, narrative, qualitative, research

Pages

xii, 263 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 232-163).

Copyright

Copyright © 2017 Justin Christopher

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