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Narrative Interviewing: Teachers’ Experiences with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Issues in Education

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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In 2011, I started my first research project that involved institutional review board–approved interviews. My initial goal was to understand novice teachers’ experiences with bullying that involved lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students, but over the course of the 2-year project, I realized that what I was attempting to research and what I had planned to research were not the same. Following the first semester of messy and often-failed interview efforts, I realized that my actual research questions sought to understand my participants’ experiences with LGBTQ issues in education, including bullying, but also encompassing matters such as school cultures and settings, curricular mandates, and participants’ personal and professional beliefs. Most studies on LGBTQ issues in education focus exclusively on teachers’ professional obligations, teachers’ resistance to topics and issues related to gender and sexuality, students’ personal experiences, or suggestions for integrating LGBTQ topics into standard school curricula. My study accepted the importance of the existing research but sought to add teachers’ personal experiences as part of the larger conversation, in an effort to better appreciate how my participants’ personal and professional understandings and experiences might extend the research. This case study shares specific methodological problems that I encountered and realizations over the course of the research, and while my focus is narrative interviewing, there is particular attention on the researcher's role before, during, and after narrative interviews, in order to encourage responsible treatment of participants’ meaningful and rich narratives.

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Qualitative interviewing

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