A narrative approach to understand students’ identities and choices

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This chapter demonstrates how narrative theory in general, and narrative
psychology in particular, contribute to understand how students make meaning
of their choice of post-secondary studies. In particular two central ideas within
the theory are unfolded; the concept of identity and the concept of time. The applicability
of the theory is discussed using empirical examples. The chapter argues
that a narrative approach provides an understanding of choice of study as continuous
processes where individuals work on their identities in terms of negotiating
and constructing a coherent choice-narrative. As a consequence future studies
need to be careful when interpreting student statements about how they always
wanted to study a particular subject. Narrative psychology illustrates how we need
to contextualize this ‘always’ in terms of the students’ current position, cultural
context and meaning making. At the end of the chapter consequences for future
research are discussed as well as how this approach to students’ choices of study
contributes to our understanding of students’ science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM) choices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding student participation and choice in science and technology education
EditorsEllen Karoline Henriksen, Justin Dillon, Jim Ryder
Place of PublicationDordrecht Heidelberg New York London
PublisherSpringer Science+Business Media
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-7792-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-7793-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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