Narrative research in L1 education: Theoretical, methodological and practical aspects

Submitted by: Ilana Elkad-Lehman
Abstract: The proposed workshop is designed for researchers who are interested in or actually performing qualitative studies, particularly from a narrative approach. The aim is to combine theoretical, methodological and practical aspects in narrative research in L1 areas.
Since the days of what is known as the narrative turn, narrative is perceived as legitimate knowledge that is an important research stratum in a variety of professions. The narrative brings to the fore the authentic voices of research participants. In the case teaching the native language and its literature, these are the voices of teachers and students. The narrative approach highlights their lived experience, memories, thoughts, emotions and attitudes toward L1 teaching and learning, and the way they structure the narrative offers the possibility of representing the meaning they assign to these processes. In doing so, hierarchies are collapsed, allowing the researchers to approach academic occurrences that are not strictly lingual or educational, but have important (undeclared) sociocultural and psychological aspects. This way, the representation of voices in research is an act that promotes social justice. Since narratives can describe processes in time as well as internal thinking processes, they may be highly beneficial in research, and in the research of teaching in particular.
The workshop will address definitions of narratives and their different kinds: whether verbal in an interview or an authentic situation or textual (in diaries, letters, blogs and social media posts), whether life stories or small stories. We will discuss ethical issues arising in narrative research and experience narrative interviewing and active listening to narratives using Josselson’s (2013) approach. Finally, we will be acquainted with two approaches to narrative analysis (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach & Zilber, 1998; Spector-Mersel, 2011), and experience applying them to the analysis and interpretation of the narratives of a teacher engaged in teaching Hebrew language and literature to immigrants, of students learning literature instruction, and of a literature teaching instructor.
The workshop will conclude with a critical discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the narrative approach to researching L1 in terms of required resources, interpretation, validity of conclusions, and the impact of research on the design of educational policies.
Parts of the workshop may be expanded or reduced according to the participants’ emerging needs. As part of the joint learning process, workshop participants will be invited to present dilemmas from their own research work and benefit from the group’s help to promote their studies.

Josselson, R. (2013). Interviewing for qualitative inquiry: A relational approach. New York: Guilford. Lieblich, A., Tuval-Mashiach, R., & Zilber, T. (1998). Narrative research: Reading, analysis and interpretation (Vol. 47). Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage.
Spector-Mersel, G. (2011). Mechanisms of selection in claiming narrative identities: A model for interpreting narratives. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(2), 172-185.