Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Carter, K. (1993). The place of story in the study of teaching and teacher education. Educational Researcher, 22 (1), 5-12, 18.

There are growing numbers of researchers using story and narrative to describe both the method and object of inquiry in teaching. Carter's purpose in this paper is to clarify the arguments for incorporating story into research activities, and to consider major issues related to the use of story as a research method. Stories consist of events, characters, and settings arranged in a temporal sequence that implies both causality and significance. Stories capture complexity, interconnectedness, and the richness and nuances of meaning. They accommodate ambiguity and dilemma. Teachers' knowledge is event structured, and stories seem to provide access to their knowledge. Thus, the notion of story as a way of knowing and thinking is of particular significance to those engaged in contemporary research on teaching. A vigorous research agenda is developing around the stories teachers tell. Many in the field have turned to stories out of concern for voice, gender, and power issues. Previously, stories told about teachers by researchers tended to be stories of the deficient teacher, told by the "invisible" narrator who assumes a superior attitude toward the character. The story of this deficient teacher is, like all stories, a theory of something, although this was not explicitly stated. Although Carter joins in the movement away from those kinds of stories, she cautions against giving special status to teachers' stories. Care should be taken not to imply that teachers are the privileged authors who have direct access to "truth." Their stories are constructions that give meaning to events and should be treated as such. Nonetheless, these stories can advance the knowledge of teaching if used appropriately. Issues of interpretation, authenticity, normative value, and purposes in telling stories in the first place should be of critical importance to researchers using story methods.

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