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  • 00:01

    [MUSIC PLAYING][Colette Daiute Discusses Narrative Methods] [Why islearning about research methods important?Why is it interesting?]

  • 00:17

    COLETTE DAIUTE: The methods help yousee and understand what you might notnotice without methods.So methods are a guide to actually helpinga researcher develop questions.I mean, we start with a hunch and a curiosity,and hopefully that is a curiosity that

  • 00:37

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: will lead to contributing to the field of study,but methods are even required for generating questions.And then going about answering questionsrequires some guidelines, you know.And depending on the method, thoseare more or less specific.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And the narrative inquiry methodsare especially important to think aboutand to have some theory about and guidance on,because a narrative does exist in everyday life,so we want to draw on that, but we also

  • 01:19

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: need to be systematic about it.Another reason why learning about research methodsis important is that the research process seemslike it's straightforward.You ask a question, you gather some data,you do some analysis, and you answer the question.But it's more complex than that, and questions come up

  • 01:41

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: in the course of doing research.And there are confusions.There are unpredictable events.And having methods, guidelines can help, especiallyin those points, sort of unpredictable points.And then, in order to finish-- I mean,people get stumped along the way.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Or they think they're not gettingwhat they want to get from the interviewsor even from surveys or from narratives.So having a methodological theory and guideis really helpful in those situations too.Yeah, so learning about research methodsis also interesting, because there's

  • 02:23

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: a wide range of methods within qualitative,even with narrative inquiry, and certainlyacross all of research.And trying out different methods,which one would do well-- learning about them,is interesting in part because it helpsa researcher, an emerging researcher, or evenan experienced researcher, try to match with their learning

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: style, because what we're doing in researchis learning something.So you can find a method that addresses a learningstyle, or even a personality.A lot of people who think of themselvesas more creative or artistic are drawn to qualitative methods.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: I don't think that exactly lines up.But from the perspective of the researcher,learning about the research methodsis interesting, because they can think about how they learnand how they think.And then most importantly, knowing a range of methodsis interesting, because it's important to have

  • 03:28

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: a toolkit for whatever kind of question,to match whatever question a person comes up with.So I find that whole search process interesting.Narrative inquiry, from my perspective,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: is the gathering of data from peoplewho have some insight, some knowledge, or some curiosityabout the questions of inquiry that the researcher is using.And what's really important about narrative inquiry, as

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: well, or narrative methods, is that wenarrate in everyday life.It appears to be a universal human activity.Everybody does it.We come to our friends after a weekend and say, what happened?And then there's a long or a short answer,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: and it's either texted or spoken or presented in some other way.So people learn to narrate in everyday life.We use narrative in everyday life.And it's a method that we can build on and research.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So that's one way to explain.You know, it builds in everyday lifethe skills that people use all the time,and that then can be imported into a research setting, usedin a research setting.[What do you see as the key strengths of narrativemethods?]Yeah, there are several strengths.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: The first one is that it brings in the perspectivesof individuals.And then also many people think itbrings in the perspectives of groups of peoplethat an individual might be part of.So a perspective of a minority person,or a person of one gender or another or both.So it brings in individual voices, collective voices that

  • 05:43

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: may be relevant to a project, and thenfrom the individual perspective, different stancesthat they may have on an issue.So if they're speaking with a friend, or a parent,or an employer, different aspects of that personwill come out in their narrative.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: The first key strength then is that wegain the voices of individuals.And then a second key strength relatesto what I was mentioning earlier,and that's that we narrate in everyday life.Not only individuals, but nations narrate.They say why we should go to war,

  • 06:27

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: or why we should support a certain country or not.And it's in the news every day.There's historical narratives.And because there are all these forms of narrative,we can learn about an issue, say,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: about diversity, or inequality, or discrimination, or howpeople decide on their profession,in many different spheres of life.You know, the individual, the collective,the broader narrative about a particular issue,or a very small one.Like gossiping is narrating.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And people test out their ideas in small talkin everyday stories.So that, to me, is a real strength.I feel like in a lot of the research applicationsof narrative, the main one that's been mentioned and drawnupon is the individual voice.

  • 07:31

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So there's a lot of value that's been written about and talkedabout in getting the individual, authentic voice,and trying to find the right story from a person to addresswhat the question is.And my approach that I've been developing over the past 20

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: years is to try to look at relational voices,to create a method.And that's what I do in my book.I think it's one of the unique features of it.I mean, many people say that narrating is a social process,but the method in this book createsa guideline for how to sample, certainly, individual

  • 08:18

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: voices-- those are really important--but the individual in relation to a particular issue,as that person would think about it in their public life,maybe as a student, but also in their family life,as someone who's being evaluated as a family member,or an employee or a student, and then

  • 08:42

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: also in relation to the larger narratives in societyabout the issue.So for me, that's a strength, that thereare different spheres of narrating,and that we can draw on all of thoseto get a more kaleidoscopic view about the individualin relation to others around this issue.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: [What kind of research questions can narrative methods help youto answer?]Yeah, narrative methods can help answera lot of different questions.But very often, we start with a questionlike, what is the experience?So it's a kind of descriptive question.

  • 09:27

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: I think that's one of the main kinds of questionsthat people ask, if they're going to do narrative research.Or if a student in a course comes upwith wanting to understand how bisexual adolescents feelabout their school context, that wouldbe a descriptive question.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So the professor might suggest, OK, use a narrative.Ask people to tell about their experience,maybe from when they first entered school, or later,or once they found a group they could connect with.So they're descriptive questions.But I think if we focus on narrative researchmethods in a design phase as well,

  • 10:12

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: we can frame and address comparative questions.So for example, how do recent immigrantsto a community college think about the college?What are the challenges that immigrant students havecompared to US-born students.And then how do those two groups of students

  • 10:36

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: deal with those challenges?And there may be no differences, whichmeans they're not groups in relation to that question.But the question is comparative.And in those comparative questions,one might emphasize similarities or differences.And the whole issue of cause, you know,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: that's even contentious in experimental research.I wouldn't say that narrative methods can addressconclusively causal questions, but we can certainlyask questions that ask people to reflect on before something

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: happened, and after, and study a narrative, for us, howit develops over time.And we can analyze looking for causes within the explanation,within the narrative that a person gives.So there's that kind of-- I would call that more a process

  • 11:46

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: question, so that people who do experimental research wouldn'tthink I'm overstepping the boundsof more qualitative research.But process questions.You know, how did you come to understand?Or what were the factors that ledyou to decide to come to this school or that school?

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And a critique of that could certainlybe that that's self-report, but that'sexactly what narrative methods aretrying to get at, self-report.[What does dynamic narrating mean?Can you tell us how you've used this method in your research?]The title of my book is Narrative Inquiry, A Dynamic

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Approach.And what that means-- I started addressing that earlier,when I mentioned that narrative is a relational process,that even if a person is writing a novel, alone in a garret,that novel and the process of that narration

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: is relating to previous novels, previous artistic forms,a desire to come up with a new form.So there's an interaction.It's a relational process in the person's cultural stance,aesthetic stance, and sometimes even implicitly speaking back

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: to a previous work that that person had writtenor another work that's coming through with a different take.So dynamic narrating is first relational.And what I just explained was in an artistic sense.In the everyday narratives that we give,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: I believe there's no single narrativeand there's no even accurate recalling from memory,because each situation creates a social frame, and evenan aesthetics, and a purpose, and a solving

  • 13:54

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: of a problem in that moment.So I mean, the facts may be the same in a story about an upset,falling off one's bike in childhood.But the narrative that's told, even about a similar event,would be relational.And it could be a script.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: If a story's told over and over again,there may be one way in which it's told.So that would be more a script-like narrative.But the more common way of narratingis to narrate in relation to a person,a situation, an audience.So dynamic narrating is relational.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And it's also material, in the sensethat the way in which we're going to tell a narrativedepends on and the way we're going to organize experiencedraws on features of narrative.And people know those spontaneously.You know, there's a beginning, a middle, and an end.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: At some point, that narrative has to end.So that's plot.So there's an aesthetic shape.So we're interacting with other peoplewith purposes, and also with the narrative frame itself.So that's another aspect of dynamic narrating.And then a third major one is what I call diversity.It's a principle.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: These are principles of dynamic narrating.And the diversity principle is that, dependingon the situation and the audienceand the narrator's goal or concern,there's going to be a different story told.

  • 15:41

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: As a whole, the story's going to be different.And then also, people in different positionsaround the issue of the research are goingto narrate it differently.So these three principles of dynamic narratingare relation in many directions, and diversity, and materiality.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And the materiality, that comes from narrativefeatures, but also the kind of emotion and cognitionthat happens in the narrating process, because thoseare very material.So emotion is felt. In telling one's story,you may start getting upset and decide,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: oh, I'm going that way with that one.I don't want to be upset about it.And then the cognition is actuallyvery material in the sense that there'sprevious strategies, symbolic strategies, thathave been employed to maybe cut off that part of the storyor engage another kind of story.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So those are the three major aspects.And then another way that I like to thinkabout dynamic narrating-- and this comes from researchthat others have done about the narrating process,and then I've applied this as a research method-- isthat what narrating is is a process of figuring out what's

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: going on in the world, and how one fits,and maybe even changing it through the story one tells.And that sort of definition of dynamic narratingis one that we need to really apply in research.[What first inspired you to start research in your field?]

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Well, I was interested in language and literacydevelopment.And also from my experience growing up and beingin college, I was really fascinated with peoplewho were different from me.I majored in foreign languages and gotto engaging with people who were different from me

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: through foreign languages.I wasn't sure what I was going to do with that,but I was fascinated, and I becamequadrilingual by the time I was 23.And then when I needed to actually make money,I wound up teaching an English as a second languageprogram, programs, in New York City.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And that really got me in contactwith people who were different.And I was also drawn to people who were notproficient English speakers, but were proficientin their own cultures.So that became really interesting to me,about how a person has developed in one way or in one mode,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: and then there's a new mode whichis what in other languages, or a written expression,and they have to kind of learn and developall over again in that mode.I became really interested in that process.So I went from studying language to then studying how people use

  • 19:02

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: language to develop as people.And then I thought, oh, I can use linguistic methods.So over time, I came to this narrative approachto ask questions about human development more broadly,and then specific questions.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And then more recently, I've becomeinterested in how people use narrativeto deal with extremely challenging situations.So I've done a large project in the former Yugoslaviawith the young people who grew upduring the split of Yugoslavia.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And the ways in which they narrated that experiencewere not really separate from the experience, or the waysin which they were developing or relating to their societiesor to one another.So this whole emphasis on language and diversity,

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: I guess, and then using language to developwas kind of a path that got me to the specific studies I'vedone, to the questions, to the methods,and then to where I am now.[What are some of the challenges you have faced in researchingconflict and violence?]

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: It's actually very much what ethnographers do.And I wasn't trained as an ethnographer,but did a kind of crash course in those methods.Well, in part, even because I wasworking with people in New York City who were from verydifferent backgrounds.My first teaching experience was in a program

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: with students who'd not finished high school because they wereincarcerated for some time.And then there was a program for when they came out.Those were different times than now,when there was actually a lot of educational supportfor ex-offenders.But I kind of had to learn their world, certainly

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: before I could even feel like I was an effective teacher.You can't completely learn someone else's world.But it takes a long time-- a kind of ethnography--to feel familiar with what some of the values are,and what some of the issues were.And so I've used those that approach.

  • 21:33

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: It's not a formal ethnographic approach,but I've used the anthropologist method of taking a long timeto get to know a culture.So I spent a lot of time in the former Yugoslaviabefore I started even forming a research question.I mean, I did want to go there.I was invited there first, because Ihad done some work in the context of violence prevention

  • 21:55

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: in New York City schools, violence prevention curriculum,and did a lot of writing about that.So some people asked me to come and thinkabout doing research there.But I went for quite a few years before I formulatedthe method or the questions.And then I started forging collaborations

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: with community organizations thatwere working with young people-- thiswas in the post-war period-- community organizations thatwere working with young people to help themthrough that into adulthood in this crisis,because the war was over, but therewas remaining instability and poverty and major challenges

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: for that generation.So I didn't just hang out in Yugoslavia,but I had relationships with people in the organizations.And then they had their own view,so that was another layer of ethnography.But anyway, so it's a long processto understand what the issues areand what I needed to be sensitive to.And I was also learning the language at that time,

  • 23:02

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: through that process.So those were challenges.And I don't take the trauma approach.But still, you hear some very upsetting things,and wonder how people are going to make a life in situations

  • 23:23

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: of such instability and poverty.Although it wasn't equal across all the settings, the povertyand the challenge.But what my approach was was to work with these communityorganizations and craft a researchdesign that was developmental.And what it was called was Dynamic Storytelling by Youth.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And there was just a lot of different kindsof narrating that they did.And the purpose of that, of all that storytellingin many different forms, many different modes,digital-- we did digital storytelling,where the kids connected with young peoplefrom the former enemy countries.And they wrote their own personal narratives.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And then they wrote narratives for childrenwho were in other conflicts contexts.And crafting all of that in a way thatwas consistent with what the community centers were alreadydoing was a challenge, but it was exciting.And then the kids felt there was some purpose to that,

  • 24:28

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: because the end point was a newsletter in eachof these situations.So it was challenging to get to know and have enough experienceto even do research.And then I did the project in four different countries.So you know, varying, like, what do I say when, you know,I've just been in Serbia.

  • 24:49

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And how are the kids in Bosnia going to feel about me?And is that something upsetting to bring up or not?So just having to deal with all of those kinds of questions.And then I did another project with colleagues in Colombia,South America, which was a lot more dangerous

  • 25:09

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: place to be during the research.But the key was to have really good colleagues whohad common goals.[Which methodologies inspire you?]Well, narrative methods still inspire me,

  • 25:30

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: because I think we have a lot more work to do.I think the field is maturing in many ways,and there are a lot of different approaches.And they're becoming more usable in tandem.

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    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So that's inspiring.I'd like to go a little bit furtherwith being able to explain how narrative methods canbe systematic and even lead to quantitative results,or results that one can pair with survey studies

  • 26:15

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: and still not lose the richness of narrative,or the natural quality of it.So that's one of the things I've tried to do in this book.And I'm planning to continue with that.That is basically, it's a mixed methods approach.And that's a goal that people have now, doing mixed methods.

  • 26:35

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And I would like to continue doing thatwithin narrative inquiry.So that's inspiring.And one reason it's inspiring is because it's not alwayseasy to convince people that you're doing narrative inquiry,but you can also do a systematic analysis,

  • 26:56

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: where you might actually have a bar graph at the end.You know?And that doesn't mean you've reducedthe narrator to a category, or you've taken away the richness.It just means there's a way to find patterns.And then we can get rid of the bar graphand say, oh, the immigrant kids tendto talk about bureaucratic obstacles that really just

  • 27:22

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: plague them in their community college education,whereas the US-born community college students talkabout annoying peers.So we analyze the narratives and find, wow,they tell us their best and worst experiences in communitycollege, and there are pretty different patterns that comeout with a rigorous analysis.And you can observe that in a quantitative way

  • 27:45

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: or a visual way with a graph.And that doesn't mean we've reduced the narrative.So it's still inspiring to find good ways to explain that.I mean, I've definitely tried to do that in this book.And people have said they got it.But that's still a challenge.So I think mixed methods is kind of on the horizon

  • 28:06

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: for many, many methodologists, and that's inspiring.[Which key thinkers have most inspired you?]Well, most of the key thinkers that inspiredme were theorists of narrative and human development.

  • 28:27

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So one of them was Lev Vygotsky, whowas a psychologist at the beginning of the 20th century.He had a Marxist approach and thoughtabout the development of an individualas a collective endeavor.

  • 28:49

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So society develops the individual,and the individual develops society.So that's a key element of my approach to narrative.And then certainly, more recentlyis Jerome Bruner, who's written a lot about narrative.And then one of the specific points of dynamic narratingthat I mentioned earlier was one that was

  • 29:09

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: developed by Katherine Nelson.She studied how young children learn languagethrough narrative.And that's where this idea of dynamic--she didn't use the term dynamic narrative,

  • 29:29

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: but she said what narratives are foris figuring out what's going on around one, how one fits.And then, because I'm interested in education and social change,I've added this piece to the end,which is, and might want to use narrativeto change the situation.But Katherine has been a major inspiration.

  • 29:50

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Many, many other people too, but those are three key.And they're mostly, actually theorists.And I've have read a lot of other narrative inquiryand been inspired by Clandinin and Connelly, and Creswell,and my colleague Michelle Fine, who does qualitative research.

  • 30:11

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: But my particular approach to narrativewas this theoretical one.And then now, I've been able to come back and thinkabout how that relates to the other approaches.[How has the field of narrative methods changed over time,and what developments have most influenced you?]The field of narrative methods has changed over time.

  • 30:32

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And at first, each conception, each conceptof what is narrative and how does onestudy it was kind of welded to disciplines.So in psychology, there was the more therapeutic,clinical approach that we know as Freudianor psychodynamic approach.

  • 30:53

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And that one emphasized the individual, the individual'sinteractions with one's self, so the more internal process.It wasn't in relation to upbringing or whatever,but the narrative method was very much introspective.And then, in human development the narrative process

  • 31:15

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: is more temporal, because we thinkabout development over time.Currently, we're not thinking about it so muchas beginning, middle, end.There are iterative developments.There are narratives that get repeated through one's lifecourse.

  • 31:38

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: That's still within psychology though,but the narrative is the life development, in a way.And then there are narratives within that.And of course, history is narrative.And there are methods for narrative inquiry,historiography.

  • 31:59

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So there were field-based conceptions and definitionsof narrative, and then ways to apply the study of narrative.And in some cases, narrative was just a metaphor.And in other cases, the elements of narrative were used.So I think one of the big changes

  • 32:20

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: has been now that there's more interdisciplinaryunderstanding-- and then of course, another major fieldthat has focused on narrative is literary theory, literatureand literary theory.And that one, clearly, has focused a loton the aesthetics, the futures of narrative,the possibilities, changing narratives over time.So I think early on, there were these more disciplinary ways

  • 32:44

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: to think about it.And there tended not to be so much cross-fertilization,at least in my reading of all of these different fieldsand how they define narrative.But now, there's much more interdisciplinary work.So for example, the methods that I've appliedbuild from developmental psychology,sociolinguistic studies of narrative,

  • 33:06

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: but also literary theory.So there's a chapter in my book on plot analysis,so actually analyzing narrative pieces of interviews,or elicited narratives, or news stories in terms of the plots.So I've combined those three disciplines, at least.And I think more and more people are doing that.

  • 33:28

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So there's a more interdisciplinary perspectiveabout what narrative is and how to do narrative inquiry.For me, that's one of the biggest changes.I think it's a good change, too.[What does being an ethical researcher mean to you?Why are ethics important?]

  • 33:49

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Being an ethical researcher meansquestioning oneself in an ongoing way,throughout a research process.Fortunately, there are guidelinesand rules and requirements when one works with human subjects.So we all have to go through this process.Every student I work with, every colleague, myself,

  • 34:12

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: every project has to go through human subjects review.And I think that's a really good thing,because it was developed to address abuses of researchwith human subjects in the past.So one has to follow those rules,understand why they're important.Sometimes people think of them as an annoyance.

  • 34:35

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Sometimes it takes a long time to get through the process,and it makes one have to change the study,or you just have to explain it better.But I think that's a really good process.So that's more the formal aspect.And then in the kind of research I do,which is very field-based-- and certainlythe students I work with are doing researchlike that-- we do research in natural settings, in practice.

  • 34:57

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: We might create interventions-- like the dynamic storytellingmethod, which I told you about-- where we introducesome methods in a setting that would beconsistent with that setting.But mostly, we're working in naturally occurring settings.

  • 35:19

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So we have to always be aware of unexpected events and upsetsthat people may have.And what we said we'd do in our formal human subjects reviewmay not exactly apply.You have to try something else to helpsomeone become comfortable.

  • 35:39

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And just always be prepared to question the methodsin the study.And another aspect of being an ethical researcheris to have systematic methods.Methods really help someone do that.And sometimes in narrative study,

  • 36:01

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: it might be tempting to read more openly,or to ask a person to tell their story over and over againto try to get to the right answer.

  • 36:21

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: But I think we have to realize that any situation-- thisis part of the relational principle of dynamic narrating,the way I look it.Everyone is narrating in relation to someone elseand to some history they've had.So there's always some kind of maybe a power

  • 36:41

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: relation involved in that.So having a really good research designthat addresses power relations is important.And not everyone thinks that narrative researchrequires research design or very detailed methods.So for example, part of our methodis to analyze narratives in at least two different ways that

  • 37:02

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: are systematic.And we also get reliability.To me, those analyzes, and havinga process-- not that it's overly rigid,or it's the only one we use, or when we finish, we say,that's the truth.No.That's not the purpose of those methods.The method is trying to be systematic and ethical,

  • 37:24

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: because what the methods do is question the researcher'sinstincts, in a way.So if it's a control that we have on our own process.So I feel like really good methodshelp us maintain an ethical stance on our own right,

  • 37:54

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: to find whatever we want.[What advice would you give to a student embarkingon a narrative methods research project for the first time?]Well, the first piece of advice-- and of course,I teach this kind of course.And people come in at very different places.I teach PhD students, so maybe I should talk more about

  • 38:17

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: when it's an undergraduate student,because I also teach some undergraduate sections.The first advice is to observe.I mean, people have to find-- have an area of interest.So that part has to be developed.And sometimes new researchers needhelp figuring out how to state what they're interested in.

  • 38:40

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And there are domains within different fieldsthat would suggest what are some areas thatstill need exploring.So there's that kind of process.What needs to be done?What needs to be learned in your area of interest?And once that kind of gets narrowed,I think observing in everyday situations,

  • 39:02

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: among where people are who might have some insight,some practice, some activities related to this interest.And then maybe even gathering-- if I'mgoing to focus on a narrative inquiry for this question--gathering narratives.I mean, we're not allowed to go ahead and interview people

  • 39:23

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: without human subjects review, but just narrativesthat are in the environment.And start thinking about what's being said,or what's being reported, or what is therethat's intriguing, and then mostly what'sthere that's confusing.So at that point in a course, I might say to students,

  • 39:46

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: OK, bring in some narrative that'srelevant to your interest.And then I have them converse with it.So that person's talking to you.Ask questions.Where is something unclear?What do you want to know more about?What's happening there?And that engagement with the narrativecan start developing a question.

  • 40:09

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So to be open to creating a really good question,and then to decide that-- to realize that narrativeinquiry involves design.That doesn't mean it's experimental design,or that it's a rigid design, but that wehave to really understand how the methods we're going to use

  • 40:34

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: will address the relational dimension, either powerrelation with the researcher understanding,being sensitive to the way a person wants to present.So for example, I'm doing a study with new teachersright now.And it's really hard to be interviewing someonebecause they're a new teacher and not

  • 40:55

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: realize that most of what they're going to sayhas to do with a professional stance.That's why we're asking them to narrate their experience,or their journey to becoming a teacher.So there's going to be a professional relation,professional stance, that they want to convey.So we might then also say, well, narrate some advice.

  • 41:19

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: Tell your experience so far as a teacher or a new teacheror teacher education student for someone who mightwant to come into the field.So that changes the power relation stance,where this person who's being asked about their journeynow is giving advice to someone else.They're telling a story that gives advice.

  • 41:39

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So one important message to a beginning researcherin narrative inquiry is to realizethat there's design involved.And that's another unique approach that I have.I think more and more people are agreeing with that,

  • 41:59

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: but there's design involved.And to not be afraid you're goingto get unnatural narratives if you're doing design.And then also to be able to do rigorous analysis,and welcome that process, and to welcome creating questionsthat will allow you to be surprised, as well

  • 42:21

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: as confirmed.And then also one other piece of advicefor beginning researchers is to do these projectsin collaboration.[What are the practical benefits of studying qualitativeresearch for a student's academic or professionalfuture?]The benefit to scholars for developing

  • 42:43

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: a rich array of research methods isthat they can ask different kinds of questions,but also gain different insights on a particular question.And the qualitative methods are oftenviewed as hypothesis-generating.But I don't really think that that's the case.

  • 43:05

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: I just think we get a different kind of information.So for example, I have a study that I'm doing with a studentnow with community colleges.I've mentioned the other times before.And actually, we've used a surveythat's being used in community colleges.So we have actually a check off the box kind of survey

  • 43:25

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: to be able to relate our study to other studies.But then we also have a range of narrative methodsthat we're using.We ask them about their best experiencesin community colleges, their worst experiences.We ask them to narrate from an administrator's perspective,from a faculty perspective.So we have this rich array of perspectives

  • 43:48

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: on how the students are viewing the community collegeexperience.And that allows us to, first of all,be able to write many different papersrelative to the question.So for practical advice to people starting out,being able to design a study and gather data, where you can

  • 44:10

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: write about it, about different aspects of the study,and then also to be able to gain different insightfrom the different methods that are used,and also to be able to be creative when there'sa surprise, to be able to use a different kind of method that

  • 44:35

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: might not have been used before, but thatcould address a particular question thatstill isn't being addressed.I mean, certainly having a broad toolkit of methodsis important for any researcher, and certainlysomeone seeking an academic job.

  • 44:57

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And in order to do that, one has to publish,do research that contributes.Maybe that's one other element of whatit means to be an ethical researcher,to actually produce something, give back to society

  • 45:21

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: in some way for having done this research.[What pieces of research are you most proud of, and why?]Of course, I love all my research projects.Each one was a major excitement and commitment, especially when

  • 45:41

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: I had funding for it, and I had support,and could have collaborators who were alsobenefiting in a variety of ways from the project.But one study that really createdthis shift I talked about, from where I was looking at-- Iwas doing research on how social interaction influences

  • 46:04

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: literacy, to then looking at how using languageand literacy in narrative in particularhelps people develop as people and in relation to othersaround them and the problems that they have.It was the study I did in the New York City schoolsin the context of a violence prevention program,

  • 46:26

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: where kids were reading high-quality literature.These were third through fifth graders in nine classrooms.They were reading high-quality literatureabout intergroup conflict, ethnic group conflict.And then there was a large dimensionof the curriculum that involved writing, which

  • 46:49

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: is one of my areas of specialty, and narrativewriting in particular.So we had them narrate their own conflicts.And it was beautifully designed.They were going to narrate at the beginning of the yearand at the end.And we'd see if they learned from the instruction thatwent on about how do you resolve conflicts.So the classes would read the high-quality literature

  • 47:11

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: about intergroup conflicts, and the teacherwould use the guidebook for teachingto help kids think about, OK, when somebody really bugs you,what do you do?OK, you use words.You don't use fists.You know, all the common sense, important strategiesfor defusing a situation.

  • 47:32

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And then they went through steps of how conflicts escalate,so they could become sensitive and maybe walk away, or maybetry a different approach.So it was a really nice set of activities.These kinds of curricula were fairly commonin the '90s in urban contexts.

  • 47:54

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: At one at the last minute, I put into the studya fictional story.So they were going to do autobiographical narratives,and I put into the study a fictional design.So I created this little story starter.You know, two kids are best friends,and then a third person moves into the neighborhood.

  • 48:14

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And what happened next?So there's a potential conflict, but not necessarily.But it was a fictional content.And what came out over the school year, and thenover three years, was that the kids' personal stories,their own autobiographical stories of conflict,became more like the curriculum.

  • 48:36

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So at the beginning of the year, you'dhear, well, that kid bump my chair, and I punched him.Or my cousin tried to steal my bike,and I threw him on the ground.Normal kinds of kid interactions.I guess, normal, you know.Or maybe, you know, cursing or not ideal.

  • 48:57

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: OK.So even if you're using your words,using curse words rather than--And then those disappeared at the end of the year.Even if it was the same conflict,you could tell it was the same one being narrated.But more of those issues showed up in the fictional stories.The children's stories over time,their own experiences of conflict,were narrated exactly as the curriculum would

  • 49:19

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: want them to be, with no fighting, everyone windsup being best friends at the end,whereas their fictional stories became not only morefull of conflicts that were acted out,but also with much more emotion.It was really, really interesting.

  • 49:39

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So the autobiographical stories became a little bit morelike script.And then the fictional stories became more sort of infusedwith emotion and problems, and even, you know,physical conflicts.I mean, I don't know if I'd say I was proud-- I mean,I'm glad I thought to put in that fictional story.

  • 50:01

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: So I'm like, phew, I did that.But it was a really pivotal moment for me.And then after that, that's when I said,OK, I really worked out the theory much more fullyabout narrative use, which is that we're narratingin relation to a context.We shouldn't just assume that there's a story, a right story,

  • 50:22

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: even about the same event.But it's going to be told in relation to context.So the kids were telling it for the classroom,to be seen as a good person in the classroom.But then they had this other aesthetic modeto put in what needed to be done as well, whichwas to write about conflict and upsetting things and jealousy.

  • 50:45

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: And so you know, since then, I'vebeen designing my research-- and that'sa major organizational frame of this, of my book,and some previous books I've done,too-- to think about the narrative as doing something.

  • 51:08

    COLETTE DAIUTE [continued]: We narrate to do something in our relationaland personal lives.So they're not just reports.They're relational engagement.So I like that idea.I'm still, I don't know about proud of it,but I'm excited about it.So I'm going to keep working it.


Professor Colette Daiute explains her take on narrative methods, which seeks to understand the relationships and context that affect a story and how it is told. Though the concept and execution of narrative research was once highly dependent on the researcher's field, now narrative inquiry is more interdisciplinary.

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Colette Daiute Discusses Narrative Methods

Professor Colette Daiute explains her take on narrative methods, which seeks to understand the relationships and context that affect a story and how it is told. Though the concept and execution of narrative research was once highly dependent on the researcher's field, now narrative inquiry is more interdisciplinary.