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Using narrative analysis in engineering education research to investigate students' academic transition

27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016

Abstract: Context: This paper presents narrative analysis as an approach for the study of lived transition experiences of students from a pathway program to a Bachelor of Engineering program. While recent research sheds some light on the transition experiences of students, a narrative approach provides students with a voice in relation to telling their own academic transition story. This provides insight into transition that cannot be captured by more traditional quantitative or even qualitative approaches.

Narrative analysis, a method developed in the social sciences, explores the stories of participants as a unique data source, and privileges keeping the stories as wholes, rather than coding and categorising aspects to develop a generalised or transferable description. It prompts us to view students' stories as having a structure from which we can also learn - in other words, narrative analysis suggests that how students tell us their stories of their engineering education is as important to our research as what they say, and what 'category' they may fit in.

Purpose: This paper presents narrative analysis as a useful methodology within engineering education research, in particular to study students' academic transition experiences.

Approach: This paper describes the narrative analysis approach (Chronological Organisation) where a story is constructed from participant's transcripts with a clear beginning, middle and end. A case study is used to illustrate the analysis approach from a current major research project on lived student transition experiences from a pathway program to an honours bachelor degree in engineering.

Results: The case of Sofia's academic transition story is used to contextualise narrative analysis for engineering education research. The three results key stages are

Phase 1: Development of narrative interview protocol.

Phase 2: Narrative construction of the narrative transcript's data.

Phase 3: Narrative analysis of the constructed narrative stories.

Conclusions: Narrative analysis offers a different way of exploring and analysing the lived experiences of participants in engineering education research, particularly where there is power in the telling of individual stories and the lens they provide on particular phenomena.

To cite this article: Alao, Luke; Mann, Llewellyn and Bryant, Melanie. Using narrative analysis in engineering education research to investigate students' academic transition [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 10-19. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=678834853104339;res=IELENG> ISBN: 9780994152039. [cited 28 May 17].

Personal Author: Alao, Luke; Mann, Llewellyn; Bryant, Melanie; Source: In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 10-19. DOI: Document Type: Conference Paper ISBN: 9780994152039 Subject: Engineering students; Engineering--Study and teaching; Discourse analysis, Narrative; Academic achievement--Social aspects; Qualitative research; Quantitative research; Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Swinburne University of Technology, email: lalao@swin.edu.au
(2) Swinburne University of Technology
(3) Swinburne University of Technology

Database: Engineering Collection