As data I also used journal reflections that I had kept prior to the ‘official’ start of the research. These included my thoughts on having tried using student personal narratives in previous classes as well as my reflections on being involved in the practitioner research process.
Besides my field notes and journal, student feedback also contributed to the data for this research. To solicit the students’ responses to the use of student personal narratives, I used three different tools. First, after the students had been asked (twice) to tell personal narratives in the class, I had them break into small groups to discuss the class in general. I asked them to discuss and then create point form notes on what they liked about the class, what they did not like about the class and suggestions they had for improving the things they didn’t like. Since the students were not aware that I was looking specifically at the use of the narratives, I was curious to see if the students would even identify the narrative technique and if they would discuss it as a positive or negative activity.
With the second student response tool, I asked each individual student to write a journal immediately after I had used the fourth narrative technique in class. I asked the students to respond to the following questions in their journal:
And finally, at the end of the semester, we had an open-ended, full class discussion. The students were asked to talk about what had gone on in the classroom that had helped them learn. During this discussion I identified the specific technique I had been researching and asked them to discuss their thoughts on the value of the technique. During this discussion, which I facilitated, a tape recording was made of the comments. I later transcribed the tape and used the students’ comments as data.
I was very careful with the transcription of the tape. I had learned from previous practitioner-research experience (Niks et al., 2003) that needing to return to the original tape in order to verify rigorous notes was a tedious process and as there was only one tape to transcribe, fully transcribing it the first time would be a much more efficient and satisfying process. The students’ discussions helped triangulate my data. Their words confirmed, enhanced and challenged my other data.