Beyond the Story Itself: Narrative Inquiry and Autoethnography in Intercultural Research in Higher Education


  • Sheila Trahar University of Bristol



narrative inquiry, autoethnography, intercultural learning and teaching, higher education


STENHOUSE's (1981) differentiation between research on education and research in education contributed much to the development of practitioner research in educational settings, yet exemplars of university teachers researching their own practice are rare. Even rarer, in spite of pleas from "international students" for reciprocal dialogue with local academics and students to recognise the value of many different realities and knowledges (KOEHNE, 2006), are practitioners who reflect critically on the personal and professional impact of cultural diversity in higher education (BRUNNER, 2006). In this article, I critique how a narrative inquiry paradigm supported and challenged me to explore different realities and knowledges about learning and teaching in a UK higher education context in my doctoral research with postgraduate students from many different cultures. Practitioner research is, inevitably, an iterative process—research and practice are inextricably linked and continuously evolving. Thus, through the autoethnographic exploration of my own practice, my "subject positions, social locations, interpretations, and personal experiences" continue to be examined "through the refracted medium of narrators' voices" (CHASE, 2005, p.666), glimpses of which will be seen as the article unfolds. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901308


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Author Biography

Sheila Trahar, University of Bristol

Sheila TRAHAR (PhD, MSc, Dip Counselling, BA, FHEA) is a senior lecturer at the University of Bristol. Her research interests are cross-cultural communication, learning and teaching in higher education and the methodological complexities of researching across cultures. Dr TRAHAR has recently led a UK Higher Education Academy (HEA) Internationalisation initiative funded study. The study's main aim is to explore perceptions and practices of internationalising the curriculum from a discipline, practitioner and student perspective and to identify the impact of "internationalisation" on learning and teaching across several disciplines. The study emphasises particularly the concept of Internationalisation at Home (IaH). Dr TRAHAR is Director of the Master of Education (MEd) programme taught in Hong Kong at City University and Secretary of the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE).




How to Cite

Trahar, S. (2009). Beyond the Story Itself: Narrative Inquiry and Autoethnography in Intercultural Research in Higher Education. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(1).



Application, Innovation, Reflection and Training of Qualitative Methods