Autoethnography Research – Approved Version

Thank you all for your help thinking through this project. Here is the final version that just received ethical (IRB) approval.

Now, I am searching for a few people to interview who have published autoethnography – any assistance in locating people for a brief interview in the next 2 weeks will be appreciated.

Educational Explorations of Autoethnographic Inquiry: A Tale of 2 Teachers

Research Problem
Autoethnography is increasingly used as a research method, pushing the boundaries of qualitative inquiry by focusing on a phenomenon in the life of the researcher as the central aspect of study and publishing the findings as a cultural critique. With online technologies making the entire research process more transparent and potentially interactive, the researcher’s process and goals themselves may be explored, as the steps can be studied as part of the process, rather than by looking only at the final, published product. Of particular interest is transparency in the research process itself, especially when the autoethnographic inquiry is done in public, such as through a blog, discussion forum, or other technology where reader input can inform the process and researcher’s thinking. Little is known about the researcher’s learning goals for his or her readers, as well as how the researcher’s own learning develops through the process of conducting the autoethnographic research itself.

Literature Review
This will focus on autoethnographic inquiry: what it is, why it is done, and what is learned through it. I am planning to focus around the work of Carolyn Ellis, Art Bochner, Deborah Reed-Danahay, and Jean Clandinin and Michael Connelly. I will also search for literature that explores the intended goals and learning of the autoethnographer.

Purpose & Research Design
The purpose of this case study is to understand researcher learning goals and personal learning itself in those who engage in autoethnographic inquiry. This will be a qualitative research design, with a constructivism philosophical worldview. The strategy of inquiry will be case study. The research methods will be semi-structured interview.

There are no expected ethical issues in this research. Participants will remain anonymous, with fictitious names being used and the transcripts from the research secured on a password-protected computer.

This research is important to me because I am interested in learning more about how autoethnography can be used as a method in online and distance education, particularly for its seeming relationship with reflective practice and transformative learning. This is part of a large research interest of mine, which I am seeking to begin exploring in this smaller research project. I hope to better understand this to ultimately help improve the effectiveness of online teaching and learning practice.

As this is an exploratory case study, there will be 2 people interviewed for this research. I will reach out to my network of colleagues and distribution lists to locate 2 people who have published autoethnographic inquiries (I have already had two offers for autoethnographers to be interviewed; I will actively look for other possible participants once this proposal is accepted). Interviews will be conducted over the phone. Open-ended interview questions will be used:

  1. Why did you choose to use autoethnographic inquiry? 
  2. Who is your intended audience? 
  3. What goals did you have for your readers or learners?
  4. What role did technology play in your research? 
  5. What did you learn in the process of this autoethnographic inquiry? 
  6. If you were to conduct further autoethnographic inquiry, what would you do differently?

Interview results will be hand-transcribed and sent back to the participants for their review and approval.

The transcripts will be hand-coded (as per Stake, 1995 and Wolcott, 1994), with the results sent to the participants for their review. Grounded theory will be used to understand the results (Fernandez, 2004, ).

Findings and Next Steps
TBD; exploratory in nature.

Personal Learnings
I will explore what I learned in preparing and conducting this research project.

My personal learning objectives include:

  1. Collaborate on the design process, actively seeking feedback from colleagues on the design and development of this research project
  2. Investigate how others experience the autoethnographic research process
  3. Assess how the findings broaden my perspective on the method as an educational experience

Listed as used.