The Narrative Practitioner Conference Programme

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The Narrative Practitioner Conference Programme

June 11th-13th 2007

North East Wales Institute of Higher Education ,Wrexham ,UK

A warm welcome to all delegates from the conference team, we hope you enjoy the conference and your stay in North Wales.

Dr Alex Carson

Professor Gavin Fairbairn

Professor Ros Carnwell

Marjorie Lloyd

Nikki Lloyd Jones

Gillian Fairclough

Sally Ann baker

Colin Heron

Ros Harrison

Desdemona Mac Cannon

Haydn Hughes

Day 1 - 11th June 2007

8.00 -11.00 Registration, coffee, poster and exhibition viewing Fellows Café Bar

11.00 -11.10 Conference Opening - Professor Michael Scott, Nick Whitehead Theatre

Principal North East Wales Institute of Higher Education

11.10 -12.00 Keynote Speaker -

Donald E Polkinghorne, University of Southern California USA

The Narrativity of Practice”

12.00 -1.00 Lunch

1.00 -2.00 Keynote Speaker (and Performance) - Nick Whitehead Theatre

Didier Danthois, Fool at Heart, School of Sacred Clowning. London.

The Wisdom of Innocence

2.00 - 2.30 Coffee break, poster and exhibition viewing Fellows Café Bar

2.30 - 4.30 Concurrent Sessions / Workshops

(Including experiential workshop with Didier Danthois)

6.30 - 7.30 Conference Reception Fellows Café Bar

7.30 - Conference Dinner - William Aston Hall

Evening Entertainment

Music from Liam Robinson (accordeon) and Thomas Fairbairn (fiddle / piano)

Day 2 – 12th June 2007

9.30 -10.30 Keynote speaker Nick Whitehead Theatre

Roshan Doug - Birmingham Poet Laureate 2000-2001 and Consultant on Diversity Training

The Business of Poetry”

10.30 - 11.00 Coffee break, poster and exhibition viewing Fellows Café Bar

11.00 - 12.30 Concurrent Sessions/ Workshops

(Inc experiential workshop with Steve Outram, Senior Advisor with the Higher Education Academy - From Dissemination to Knowledge Transfer: Using stories to persuade and influence)

12.30 - 1.30 Lunch

1.30 - 2.30 Keynote Speaker Nick Whitehead Theatre

Gavin J. Fairbairn, Professor of Ethics and Language, Leeds Metropolitan University

'Storytelling, Ethics and Academic Writing'

2.30 - 3.00 Coffee, poster and exhibition viewing Fellows Café Bar

3.00 – 5.00 Concurrent Sessions/ Workshops

(Including experiential music and storytelling workshop with Robin Williamson)

6.00- 700 Gavin Baker, NEWI Wrexham Wales & Trevor Walker, St Mary’s University College Twickenham London England. Pre -Dinner Dramaturgy Workshop - Reflections on the First Year Experience in University

7.00 Conference Dinner - William Aston Hall

Evening entertainment

Robin Williamson - Harper, storyteller, founder member of the Incredible String Band

Day 3 – 13th June 2007

9.00 -10.00 Keynote Speaker Nick Whitehead Theatre

Dr Alex M Carson, School of Health Social Care Sport and Exercise Science NEWI

Title: The Narrative Practitioner

10.00 -10.30 Coffee, poster and exhibition viewing Fellows Café Bar

10.30 -12.30 Concurrent Sessions/Workshops. (Including experiential appreciative inquiry workshop with Collette Bleakley, Ros Harrison and Alex Carson).

12.30 - 1.00 Plenary Session Nick Whitehead Theatre

1.00 Lunch and close of conference

Concurrent Sessions / Poster Presentations

Day 1 Afternoon 2.30 - 4.30

Theme A Research

  • Brenda Blondeau. York University Toronto Canada. Incest narratives : difficult discourses of a re/membered body

  • Jennifer Yeager University College Cork Ireland. Using narratives to analyse interviews with rape victims and sexual abuse survivors

  • Ayeray Medina, Leeds Metropolitan University England. Healing Narratives the reconstruction of memory in Latin America.

  • Melissa Sevista Nolas, London School of Economics, London. Narratives of Action Research: using stories to navigate through the complexity of collaborative research projects.

Theme B Education

  • John Given, Northumbria University A narrative strategy for research and training in health and social care

  • Carmel Hinchion, University of Limerick Ireland. Autobiographical narrative as a form of education inquiry

  • Dr. Grzegorz Wiącek, Cathedral of Rehabilitative Psychology, Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) Poland. Using narrative approaches in research with deaf-blind people

  • Mike Carter, Geoff Tookey, University of Bedfordshire, John Hanscombe, Wooden Hill Theatre Company. England Project Vena: Learning and unlearning script

Theme C Practice

  • Sue Mc Bean, University of Ulster Ireland. Writer and reader journeying with loneliness – “the story of my father” (an Alzheimer’s memoir)

  • Victoria Woodward, NEWI Wales. Emigration from Britain - is the grass greener on the other side of the pond or just a different shade of brown?

  • Dr Dawn Jones, Hope University Liverpool England. 'Talking Risks: An exploration into women's perceptions of antenatal risk narratives in pregnancy.

  • Dr Anthony Goodman, Middlesex University England.– The changing nature of probation

Day 2 Morning 11.00 - 12.30

Theme A Research

  • Dr Vera Kalitzkus, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany Life changing illness episodes and inner development - a biographical-narrative approach

  • Dr Marilyn Kendall, Community Health Sciences Edinburgh Scotland. Form and meaning – how should we transcribe research interview narratives

  • Johanna Hunt, University of Sussex, England. The Informative Workspace: Narratives in Software Development Practice

Theme B Education

  • Dr. Joy Jarvis & Bushra Connors, University of Hertfordshire England. Exploring the contribution of narrative curricula to professional learning: an example from teacher education

  • Andrew Walsh, University of Central England .Use of narrative in mental health nursing: teaching and practice

  • Dr. Andre Mottart, Ronald Soetaert, Ghent University Belgium. Narratives about Teachers. Teachers about narratives

Theme C Practice

  • Mitzi Vernon Margarita McGrath, Benjamin Tew, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.USA. The Story on Phoebe’s field – an exhibit and workshop on a multidisciplinary project to communicate science to kids through narrative based spatial experiences

  • Dr Carol Holmes, University of Notre Dame, School of Medicine, Fremantle, Western AustraliaNarrative Intelligence

  • Georgina Lock, Nottingham Trent University, England. Structuring a narrative - playing with time

Day 2 Afternoon 3.00 – 5.00

Theme A Research

  • Dr Nollaig Frost University of London England. The transition to second time motherhood: a study of maternal narratives

  • Dr. Carly Stewart. University of Wales Cardiff. Sporting autobiographies and illness narratives. Testicular cancer across generations. Lance Armstrong and Bob Champion a comparison

  • Dr Tammi Walker, University of Bradford England. Seeing beyond the battled body – narratives of women who self harm

  • Victoria Ward, Sparknow Ltd London. Narrative Research: how far can you step beyond qualitative research in pursuit of the small insights, which illuminate the big picture, without compromising research standards?

Theme B Education

  • Christine Savvidou, Intercollege Cyprus. Constructing a dialogic space for storytelling in teacher education

  • Martin Hird & Bill Penson, Leeds Metropolitan University England. Book clubs or Lectures? Facilitating learning in higher education using stories told about mental health problems.

  • Colin Heron, NEWI Wrexham Wales. An exploration of the use of online social networks to support teaching and learning as part of a wide reaching retention strategy

  • Dr Richard Dover, NEWI Wrexham Wales. “Keeping it in the Family”: Kafka’s metamorphosis and the narratives of family psychodynamics.

Theme C Practice

  • Dr Paul Johnson, University of Wolverhampton England. Making it up as we go along: construction of narrative in Immersive Museum theatre

  • Dr John Launer & Dr Helen Halpern, Tavistock Clinic London. England. Narrative based clinical supervision for doctors

  • Angela Shaw, Shawpathways England. Encounters in an enchanted wood

Day 3 Morning 10.30 -12.30

Theme A Research

  • Miriam Ballesfin-Skelton, Eastleigh Wiltshire England. An exploration of nurses’ experience of providing psychological care for patients with cancer in the acute setting

  • Dr Cassandra Ogden, University of Central Lancashire England. Quality of life and coping in children with inflammatory bowel disease and their families: a narrative approach

  • Noreen Kelly, University of Bristol England. Stories of understanding: an exploration into the impact of gender on the creation of the narratives of depression

  • Gwyneth Owen, Graeme Paul-Taylor Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff. Would I do that again? Using narratives to facilitate personal & professional development in physiotherapy

Theme B Education

  • Phil De Prez, NEWI Wrexham Wales. Narratives, who is really telling the story?

  • Maggie Jackson, University of Teesside England. What’s the story? – developing ways of encouraging undergraduate social work students to think about loss

  • Richard Mottershead, NEWI Wrexham Wales. Including the Excluded: Weathering the Storm

  • Gavin Baker, NEWI Wrexham Wales. The role of Narratives in the Negotiated Dramaturgy

Theme C Practice

  • Marion Clark, University of Birmingham England. Knitting up the ravelled sleeve- A journey through mental distress to recovery

  • Tracey Holley, University of Birmingham. England. A service user’s Narrative – the narrative edge

  • Deborah Swann NEWI Wrexham / University of Wales Cardiff. I’m not just sitting, I’m thinking …but please listen to me

  • Victoria Ward, Sparknow Ltd. London. Story Competitions: a valid way to bring the outside to the heart of the organisation and refresh core values or a brand policy?

Poster Presentations and Exhibitions

  1. Colette Bleakley NEWI Wrexham. Wales. An appreciative critical conversational approach to facilitate organisational change and build confidence in staff and students

  1. Jennifer Yeager University College Cork Ireland. Using narratives to analyse interviews with rape victims and sexual abuse survivors

  1. Dr Cassandra Ogden, University of Central Lancashire England. Quality of life and coping in children with inflammatory bowel disease and their families: a narrative approach

  1. Miriam Ballesfin-Skelton, Eastleigh Wiltshire England. An exploration of nurses’ experience of providing psychological care for patients with cancer in the acute setting

  1. Gwyneth Owen, Graeme Paul-Taylor, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff. Would I do that again? Using narratives to facilitate personal & professional development in physiotherapy

  1. Margarita McGrath, Benjamin Tew, Mitzi Vernon, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.USA. The Story on Phoebe’s field – an exhibit and workshop on a multidisciplinary project to communicate science to kids through narrative based spatial experiences (Exhibition)

  1. Steve Keegan, Cerys Alonso, Janet Bedford Jones, NEWI Wrexham Wales. Embedded Narrative (Exhibition)

  1. Marjorie Lloyd NEWI Wrexham Wales. Dancing to the music: ethnonarratives of the mentally ill

  1. Desdemona Mc Cannon NEWI Wrexham Wales. Pictographic allegories – conceptual narratives encouraging creative learning

  1. Janusz Padziński, Cathedral of Rehabilitative Psychology, Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) Poland ‘Some stories of disabled artists: their lives and their art’

Presentation Abstracts

(In alphabetical order)

1. Baker Gavin NEWI School of Humanities Plas Coch Campus Mold Road Wrexham

The role of Narratives in the Negotiated Dramaturgy In this paper, I will discuss how my concept of a ‘Negotiated Dramaturgy’ is structured and reliant on narratives. A Negotiated Dramaturgy is an approach to Applied Theatre that encourages and relies on the contributions of all the participants to be successful. I designed it initially, as a medium to encourage dialogue amongst marginalised and/or diverse groups and as a means of creative conflict resolution. The Negotiated Dramaturgy consists of the following stages: Initial meeting, Pre-Production Forum, Rehearsals and Staging, Dramaturgy and Feedback. Each of these is dependent on the use of narratives to varying degrees in order to achieve success. In this paper, I will explain the way in which I use narratives throughout the process.

The concept of the Negotiated Dramaturgy originated in work being completed with corporations in South Africa during South Africa’s move to a democracy and as a means to creative conflict resolution between the Inkatha and ANC political factions in KwaDlangezwa, KwaZulu/Natal South Africa. I designed the Negotiated Dramaturgy to deal with the specific issues that existed there at that time; it is dynamic and heuristic. In Wales, the Negotiated Dramaturgy has been used successfully in communication skills workshop at Careers Wales in Wrexham. In my paper, I will give examples from all of these to illustrate the process of the Negotiated Dramaturgy and its reliance on narratives.

2. Ballesfin-Skelton Miriam, Clinical Research Nurse/MIU Nurse, Westbury Group Practice Eastleigh Surgery, Station Road Westbury Wiltshire BA13 3BX

Exploration of Nurses’ experiences of providing psychological care for patients with Cancer in an acute setting. The diagnosis of cancer produces a high level of stress to patients and their families. Cancer patients’ physical and psychological needs must be met to enhance their ability to manage the impact of the disease process.

The aim of the study is to gain insights into the provision of providing psychological care to patients with cancer in an acute medical and surgical ward setting. Because the study explored the lived experiences of nurses’ providing psychological care to cancer patients, a phenomenological qualitative methodology was employed. Five registered nurses were purposely selected from an acute medical and surgical ward and were interviewed. These nurses were asked to narrate their experiences in the provision of psychological care to their cancer patients. In order to identify the meaning of the phenomena, psychological care, a qualitative content analysis was used. The narrated interviews, tape recorded and transcribed verbatim were examined. Five themes were acknowledged: natural nurse, being there, dealing with emotions, time and interaction with patient and family. The nurses were able to identify cancer patients’ psychological needs through assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of cancer care. The nurses highly valued the promotion of patients’ privacy and confidentiality. The provision of psychological care to cancer patients in an acute medical and surgical ward is to become a natural nurse actively involved in patient care. It is in this perspective that nurses and patient bond with each other, although the aspect of time can affect the provision of psychological care.

3. Blondeau Brenda L, M.A. WMST, York University (Toronto, Canada. 139 Yarmouth Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 1X3

Incest Narratives: Difficult Discourses of a Re/Membered Body. As an anti-racist, anti-oppression feminist, I constantly advocate for the telling of seemingly unspeakable horrors, in an effort to identify, challenge and eradicate myriad forms of oppression in the lives of women. I strive to break silences, to tell, and to hear, the previously unspoken stories – the stories that have often been deemed too ‘difficult’ to share. As I work through the stages of researching and writing my dissertation, I interview women survivors of incest to determine whether, or when, they felt they had any means of resisting at any point during the abuse, or in their subsequent survival/recovery. I constantly struggle to merge the ‘difficult knowledge’ provided by the participants with my own story as an incest survivor. Academically, I advocate for the political power to be gained in presenting women’s narratives; more recently, I have taken up the pen to plot my personal narrative as a woman who recalled episodes of incest through kinaesthetic—‘body’—memories. Interestingly, it was in the moments of sheer terror when I began to recall the abuse that I literally, and figuratively, began to re/member my body. I gently began to gather my fragmented feelings; my scattered senses; my dissociated demons. I had no further desire to leave my body, despite the fear of being touched, fondled, grabbed, or violated by an unseen and therefore unidentified abuser. I struggled to privately and publicly challenge this invisible invader. I began, slowly, to move gracefully and gratefully back into my flesh. Now, years later, as I continue to re/member my body, I write for wholeness and health; I bear witness publicly and personally to tell the stories—mine, theirs, ours—to challenge the power of perpetrators who would render all abused women scared, submissive and silent.

4 Carter Mike (Team Co-ordinator), Senior Lecturer in Theatre & Senior Teacher Fellow, University of Bedfordshire: – 01234 793409 John Handscombe, Artistic Director, Wooden Hill Theatre Company – 0845 094 0335 Geoff Tookey, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Bedfordshire: - 01234 793206

Project Vena: Learning and Unlearning Script PROJECT VENA is a multi-disciplinary project integrating staff and students in the departments of Social Work and Performing Arts at the University of Bedfordshire with local theatre company, Wooden Hill and young people who have trained with them. These young people have themselves all been involved with social services and many of them have lived in care. The project functions on a number of levels and in different ways according to the perspectives and the communication needs of the various participants. Through their work, the young trainers at Wooden Hill aim to change the narrative of their own lives and also the narratives of young people coming into care in the future. For the Social Work team the project offers strong training opportunities, not least in the utilisation of Narrative Therapy, as pioneered by the Dulwich Centre in Australia. For the theatre practitioners, used to working empathically and creatively with character and narrative, it offers experience of working in a unique cross-disciplinary model of practice as both facilitators and performers. Therefore Project Vena operates within the realms of therapy, of pedagogy and of performance.

5. Clark Marion, User Involvement Coordinator ,Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health, Watson Building, The University of Birmingham , Edgbaston , Birmingham, B15 2TT

A journey through mental distress, mental health services and recovery. This paper concerns the development of my personal narrative of recovery from a profoundly life-changing experience of complete mental and emotional collapse which was eventually given the label “psychotic depression” and the meaning of this experience for my current role in coordinating service user involvement within a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The paper will include:

An inquiry into the mental and physical manifestations of my illness, which were both terrifying and fascinating,.

An account of building coherence and a new ‘self’ through using every resource I could call upon from my own life experience to find my own explanations for the situation in which I found myself, against the competing narratives underlying the responses from mental health services.

Discussion of the use of symbolic actions and metaphors, for example managing the feeling of ‘fragmentation and ‘splitting’ by eating a pear (pair) in the recovery process. Reflection on the usefulness of some theoretical insights in understanding the distressing experiences so as to develop a therapeutic narrativeThe paper will conclude with reflections on the connections between this experience and the imperative of service user and carer involvement in the education of social care and health professions.

6. De Prez Phil, Welfare Assistant, Welfare office NEWI Wrexham 01978 293548

Narratives; who is really telling the story? Rodriguez (2002, p4) argues that no narrative is meant to be kept to oneself, it is for sharing with others and with this sharing comes a social infrastructure that bonds and binds each of us to others in a inimitable way, and furthermore, a concept which allows individuals to critically examine the repercussions and outcomes of their actions. If it is accepted that narratives are a means for the individual to address and share these issues, what are the underlying processes that may effect the reflection of these issues to form a narrative. It is the intention here to question what may be one of the underpinning requirements of an individual to work within a narrative framework, the concept of self awareness, and in particular the ability to communicate this awareness to others. Carson (2001, p199) states that ‘all situations can be described in a number of ways which reflect not just an author’s values, but also, more crucially, an authors’ identity’. This paper will question whether there is a singular unified ‘self’, or as James (1892) maintains, the individual is a highly complex social entity and that we display ‘as many different selves as people we interact with’ The concept of self awareness will be explored through relevant historical and contemporary literature in order to attempt to discover who in essence is writing the stories recounted in a narrative.

7 Dover Dr Richard, Head of Humanities, NEWI Wrexham

Keeping it in the Family”: Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the Narratives of Family Psychodynamics. “What do you think of the terrible things that go in our family?” Kafka’s question to a trusted acquaintance, shortly after the publication of ‘The Metamorphosis’ in 1915, sets a clear agenda for the treatment of the family psychodynamics in this narrative. The text lends itself to multiple interpretations: as psychobiographical confession and disclosure; as symbolic expression of existential angst and alienation; as a dark allegory of dehumanisation under advanced capitalist social relations; as a grim prophecy of racial persecution and the horrors of the Nazi ‘Death Camps’; and as parable of divine indifference to suffering and death. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the tale as an essentially psychological narrative, a dramatisation of the merciless logic of the victim and of the abused, but which in wider psycho-logical terms portrays issues of the relations between ego and other components of the Self. From its opening sentence, with Gregor Samsa awaking from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into an insect, the narrative outlines his plight and his family’s reactions with nightmarish ironic indifference, culminating in his death and the family’s release and relief from the embarrassment he has now become. Central to this portray of family relations is the relationship of son to Father, whether literal or internal parent, Patriarch or possibly an absent or indifferent God. The narrative is at one level a case study of the impossibility of the Father-son relationship, told from the point of view of the unloved (and therefore unlovable son), and can be read and experienced as an exercise in negative pedagogy. But it also can be seen read, from the perspectives of depth psychology, as extreme allegory of internal psychodynamics, of the family within the Self. Herein resides the true power and importance of this narrative and its potential for therapeutic enlightenment and creative retelling. This paper builds on the work of recent work in archetypal psychology and the application of post-Jungian concepts and theories to the reading of literary texts. Such perspectives, when applied to texts such as Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’, aim not for reductionist explication, but to demonstrate both the significance and necessity for such narratives.

8. Frost Dr Nollaig, Birkbeck College, University of London, School of Psychology, Centre for Psychosocial Studies, Malet Street, London WC17HX

The Transition to Second-time Motherhood: a study of maternal narratives. Research into maternal identity often describes the transition to motherhood (e.g. Smith, 1999; Miller, 2004). The literature is often infantocentric and suggests the existence of only one child. By examining narrative accounts this paper explores aspects of the transition to second-time motherhood from a maternocentric perspective. It highlights and discusses interpretations of narratives gathered from women over a year-long period that begins when they are six months pregnant with their second child. Close analytical attention is paid to the nuances of the stories and their telling. Feminist, psychoanalytic understanding enriches the interpretations and enables further insight to the meanings ascribed to the experiences by these women through their storytelling.

The narratives of the mothers’ perceptions of pregnancy and the births of their children illuminate the ways in which they use their maternal experience to prepare for becoming a mother again. Stories of conflicts evoked by mothering two children, and ways of managing these, show the questioning of the maternal ideal by these women. Stories of the encumbrances needed for life with two children underline the women’s’ sense of change in the availability and use of space around them.

The findings suggest that having a second child offers the women the opportunity to reappraise themselves as mothers. Recognising the impossibility of being the ‘perfect mother’, these mothers acknowledge their feelings of ambivalence and their desire for space of their own. Identifying these findings advances contemporary understanding of the experiences of mothers by raising questions about the reality of second-time motherhood.

9. Given John. Northumbria University, coach lane campus, Newcastle upon tyne.NE2 3 HQ 0191 2156228

Narrativeworks.Com. A Narrative Strategy for training and research in Health and Social Care. This paper describes the development of a biographical narrative approach (Hurwitz et al 2004) to the training and development of health and social care professionals. The Narrativeworks project (Given 2006) described here provides an integrated theoretical and methodological framework through which an inherently multidisciplinary and interprofessional academic and research agenda is generated. The narrative construction of service user and professional identities are explored through the collection and analysis of audio visual data generated through the use of biographical narrative interview techniques. (Czarniawska 2004). Storytelling has been acknowledged to be a powerful and enduring communication tool that has the capacity to support educators, students and others to reflect on and learn from experience and, in the process, deepen their understanding of practice and self. When storytelling is formalised in thoughtful and meaningful ways, it captures everyday practice moments, turns them into learning

opportunities (McDrury and Alterio 2002) and offers a range of therapeutic possibilities. (Dwividi 1997). A key feature of the Narrativeworks approach is the location of storytelling as an activity for pedagogic purposes within a postmodern framework of biographical theory and method (Chamberlayne et al 2000). Combined with the development of a digital narrative database this model opens up the possibility for linked networks of data that could generate a quite different dimension to the evidence base that currently informs welfare training and practice in the UK, as well as challenging some of the conventional ideas about what constitutes qualitative or quantative data.

10. Goodman Anthony Dr, Principal Lecturer, Middlesex University, Queensway, Enfield EN3 4SA, 020 8411 5568

The Changing Nature of Probation. Narratives from staff from the 1930 are to the twenty first century. The use of narrative accounts is a solution in how to translate knowing into telling (Elliott, 2005). The probation service has undergone many changes over time since its inception. The modern service really started in the mid 1930s when staff began to be trained and the concept of ‘treating’ offenders was implemented. More recently the old adage of ‘advise, assist and befriend’, a requirement of probation since the Criminal Justice Act 1948, changed to one of ‘control, risk assess and monitor’ as government legislation removed the requirement for social work training, replacing this with a probation specific award. Most recently the Offender Management Bill proposed market testing of key components of probation. What hasn’t been heard is the voice of probation personnel on the impact of these changes on their practice. Do they still adhere to their previous values and ethics or has practice changed? For more than 25 years the author has been conducting (taped) interviews with probation personnel who worked in the service since the 1930s and these accounts will be used to tell the real story of how government policy has impacted. Indeed, writing as recently as 2000 a former Home Office researcher commented:(M)ost basic probation orders remain rooted in one-to-one casework between a probation officer and the offender and this takes place in private...As a result, we know next to nothing about one-to-one casework in practice… (Mair, 2000, p266)

11. Heron Colin, Senior Lecturer. North East Wales Institute, Plas Coch Campus, Mold Road, Wrexham. LL11 2AW. Tel.01978 293426

An exploration of the use of online social networks to support teaching and learning as part of a wide reaching retention strategy. In 2007, the author introduced an Internet-based Virtual Learning Environment based upon Moodle, a popular open source software system, at the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education. The VLE was designed and configured for a diverse group of students engaged in sound technology and communication undergraduate courses. The key features of the software have been developed to enhance student communication and discourse, so aiding the development of social networks through narratives. The software platform was launched at a critical conjuncture in the academic year that had previously been a statistical peak in student withdrawal. This paper will summarise an interpretive study designed to understand and represent the learning experiences of the students and the impact of the Virtual Learning Environments social constructionism methodology. The motivation of this exercise is to investigate links between the participants' personal experiences and the role of the web site in building a supportive social network. The intention is to utilise the social networking tools available within the VLE and to use the narrative generated within the functions to gain an insight into the factors that motivate social coherence within the student cohort. This information will then be mapped against the factors that are known to influence student withdrawal and retention with the aim of informing future institutional policy.

12 Hinchion Carmel, Department of Education and Professional Studies, University of Limerick, Ireland., Tel. 00353 872937267


In this paper I explore the place of autobiographical narrative as symbolic action for reflection with students of teaching. I work with student teachers in the University of Limerick, Ireland, as they compose their autobiographical narratives on their developing identities of “becoming” second level school teachers. With a selected cohort of students I undertake a study of their beliefs and images about teaching by reflecting on their education autobiographies at this point in their development. The philosophical background which informs my study is John Dewey’s understanding of experience and criteria of experience. My study is also influenced by Clandinin’s and Connelly’s narrative inquiry approach in understanding teachers’ knowledge. I learn to listen and to hear students’ stories from their personal experience of schooling and education in Ireland. Through conversation and written narratives students reflect on these experiences to understand how the past might have shaped their identities as prospective teachers. I also reflect on my own identity as a teacher-researcher in this collaborative process and explore how students influence my developing autobiographical narrative. By being aware of some of my students’ believes and images of teaching I realize that their perceptions are often unreflected and therefore they challenge me, as a curriculum maker, to help them develop a more reflected understanding of what it means to be a teacher.

The paper will include the following:

(i) The place of autobiography in educational inquiry and discourse-a literature review,

(ii)Research as text, conversation and dialogue,

(iii)Understandings from research texts,

(iv)Possible curricular response in my modules as a result of this study.

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