Using Narrative Inquiry Methods in Technical Communication Research

ATTW 2019 Research Methods Workshop

Using Narrative Inquiry Methods in Technical Communication Research
Natasha N. Jones, University of Central Florida
Miriam F. Williams, Texas State University

What can people tell us about their experiences with texts and technology? How can narratives inform our scholarship and practices in technical communication?

Narrative inquiry is a participatory method that can help technical communicators to develop more inclusive and collaborative approaches to how they design and communicate their research. Participants in this workshop will learn what narrative inquiry is, how a narrative inquiry-focused study can be designed and carried out, and how to craft a publication-ready manuscript that is aligned with narrative-inquiry tenets and approaches. Using sample data, Jones and Williams will help participants step through the planning, conducting, and reporting phases of narrative inquiry research.

The workshop will have three parts:

–      Orientation: What is narrative inquiry? What can narrative inquiry afford technical communicators? This portion of the workshop will include a group discussion of readings assigned to participants.

–      Development: How do you design a narrative inquiry study? What study instruments can we use/design (interviews, surveys, artifact collection)? How do you work to co-create narratives with participants? How can you check your meaning making with participants? How do you analyze narrative data? During this portion, we will provide participants with an opportunity to envision designing a narrative inquiry approach for some issues related to previous studies in: 1) entrepreneurship, 2) social justice and inclusion, 3) regulatory writing, or 4) technical communication pedagogy.  This will give participants several lines of inquiry to evaluate and discuss with the group while critically imagining what a narrative inquiry study might entail and require. In addition, participants will have a chance to begin to work with a peer to design their own study and develop protocols for their studies.

–      Discussion: What does a published narrative inquiry study look like? What are the rhetorical, social, and cultural implications of conducting and publishing narrative inquiry research? This portion of the workshop will help participants to think through the constraints and affordances of conducting and publishing narrative inquiry research. Participants will look at an example of an in-progress narrative inquiry study and also examples of narrative inquiry publications.

In preparation for the workshop, participants will be asked to read several readings that will be sent prior to the workshop.  Workshop participants are encouraged to bring ideas and plans for future or developing studies to workshop. Sample data will also be provided.