Spotlighting the Researcher as Narrator: Voice, Representation and Interpretive Authority.
The issue, with international and national overtones, of direct relevance to my study, relates to the shaping of beginning teachers’ identities in the workplace. Each year, approximately two thousand newly qualified primary teachers graduate from a range of initial teacher education programmes in the Republic of Ireland. As the shift from the environment of an initial teacher education programme into initial practice in schools is a period of identity change worthy of investigation, my recently completed doctoral study focuses on the transformative search by nine beginning primary teachers for their teaching identities, throughout the course of their initial year of occupational experience, post-graduation. Privileging ‘insider’ perspectives, the research goal is to understand the complexities of lived experience from the viewpoints of the participating beginning teacher informants. However, as a consequence of research undertakings not being independent of the researcher, issues pertaining to researcher identity and authorial stance always remain central to research endeavours. Thus, reflexively spotlighting the role of the researcher as narrator foregrounds a range of complex issues relating to voice, representation and interpretive authority. In constructing and interpreting others’ voices and realities, researchers develop their own voices. Neither exhaustive nor rigid, a typology of three voices or narrative strategies - authoritative, supportive, and interactive - typically deployed by researchers as they attempt to represent and interpret the voices of research participants is advanced (Chase 2005). My presentation outlines the manner in which each of the three researcher voices of Chase’s (2005) typology are deployed in my doctoral study.