Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education
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Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education

Edited by Sara Delamont

The Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education offers both basic and advanced discussions of data collection, analysis and representation of all the best qualitative methods used in educational research.
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Chapter 35: Approaching Narrative Analysis with 19 Questions

Martin Cortazzi and Lixian Jin


Martin Cortazzi and Lixian Jin Qualitative researchers have research questions which are developing as their research proceeds: this is also true as we proceed through phases in applying methods. Two simple, but often profound and recurrent questions for analysing narratives are: What is the nature of the data? What is the nature of this kind of research? Behind these, a researcher immersed in data analysis can keep some equilibrium by holding other questions continually in mind: What questions are you asking? Why are they worthwhile? What answers do you have? Why are these worthwhile? This chapter is organized around 19 narrative questions, particularly questions about stories, recounts and accounts in education given as oral versions of personal experience, shared by teachers and students in relation to learning. This focus on particular ways of learning in education could be termed ‘narrative learning’ (Cortazzi et al., 2001; Trahar, 2006; Goodson et al., 2010). Questions 1–4 relate to the context of narrating, questions 5–12 focus on narratives themselves and analysis, and questions 13–19 focus on wider evaluations in narrative-based research. The point about these questions is to go beyond a content analysis. Similar questions should apply to other varieties of educational narratives: stories of institutional or curriculum development, of management or professionalism, and to narrative texts such as written entries in journals and learning diaries, or multimodal and visual narratives in the form of drawings, photos or film (Kalaja et al., 2008) or to children’s narrative (McCabe and Peterson, 1991;...

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