07 SES 01 C JS, Challenges of Educational Ethnographies in the Context of Social Inequality
Joint Paper Session NW 07 and NW 19
The purpose of the presentation is to share with researchers the challenges and barriers we encountered when interviewing successful people with a significant disability they experienced since childhood.
The aim of our study was to examine narratives of adults with disabilities who have attained successful occupational status and the contributions of various resources to their resilience and self-efficacy. Our theoretical framework for the study was positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014), focusing on resilience (King, Newman & Luthans, 2015) and self-efficacy (Bandura, 2011; Althauser, 2015). Resources that help people to succeed despite significant challenges, in particular childhood disabilities, can be divided into personal-internal (within the individual) and social-external (within his or her environment) (Hobfoll, 2001).
The present study examined resilience and self-efficacy as a gradually developing characteristic that helps an individual cope with the challenges imposed by childhood disability (e.g., blindness, physical disability, deafness, etc.) and its social, functional and emotional implications. People with resilience and a high sense of self-efficacy are characterized by a sense of control over various life events, display a sense of involvement and experience meaningfulness. These individuals exhibit flexibility, adaptive ability, initiatives and positive feelings (Ong et al., 2006). In addition, studies found a positive connection between resilience and mental and physical health (Braun-Lewensohn et al., (2011).
Our presentation will focus on the methodological and ethical challenges in interviewing successful individuals with disabilities. The presentation will discuss the challenges we encountered and the dilemmas these challenges raised.
Nind (2008) stated that qualitative researcher face challenges when conducting research with people with disabilities that are similar to the challenges people with disabilities themselves face and that these challenges "are as much as a product of the interactions between them and the wider context as of any inherent impairment; people with learning/communication difficulties have something to say that is worth hearing and experiences that are worth understanding, making it important to commit serious attention to the methodological challenges involved in researching them." While Nind's review of the literature was thorough, it did not include studies that investigated the lives of successful people with various disabilities.
This presentation’s research questions were:
- What are the challenges, barriers, and dilemmas that qualitative researchers may face when conducting research with adults with disabilities?
- What are some solutions that could help researchers overcome these challenges and dilemmas?
The present study used a narrative methodology, which systematically analyzes narratives (Holley & Colyar, 2009). Each person's life story is unique, and enables him or her to express one's recalled thoughts and experiences. The narrative's purpose is to serve the narrator's goal, and therefore it could change and be reconstructed since the experiences of individuals serve as a central source for knowledge and generation of reality's meaning. Research on people with disabilities is increasingly using narrative methodology to investigate their spoken or written narratives (e.g., Dunn & Burcaw, 2013; Malhotra & Rowe, 2014; Reiff et al., 1997) and to uncover elements from these narrativesת such as a person’s disability perception and identity. Interviewing successful individuals with disabilities may pose similar challenges to those encountered when interviewing people from marginalized groups, but also raises some unique questions and dilemmas that need to be considered. Participants: Two principles guided the selection of participants for the study: 1) Adequacy – a sufficient number of participants who will provide enough data that will be enable the researchers to describe the examined experience in a full and rich way (Morse, 1994). 2) Appropriateness – identifying and selecting participants who are suitable for answering the research questions, i.e., occupationally successful people with disabilities. Participants: Our sample consisted of 20 people with disabilities (ages 41-63 years), who have made significant occupational attainments, in business, sports, politics, academia, etc. In the present study we used Rieff and colleagues' definition of success (1997). Instrument: An open in-depth and a brief questionnaire including some demographic information. The opening question was: Please tell me the story of your life. While at the initial stage the participants told their narrative in a free flowing manner, follow-up questions focused on ways in which the educational system promoted or hindered the processes that enabled the participants to attain success, especially significant educators or administrators who have affected them. Procedure: After receiving the participants' initial agreement, we met with each participant individually, and explained to them the general purpose of the study. They each signed an informed consent form, which included the option of whether or not their names will be disclosed. All interviews were transcribed and then analyzed. Data analysis was based on narrative approach, using a holistic perspective of four main domains (Spector-Mersel, 2010).
Entering the field: ● Some successful people with disabilities refused to participate because they wanted to be recognized for their achievements and activities, rather than be labeled by their disability. ● Some successful people with disabilities were interviewed several times by the media over the years, and were not interested in yet another interview. Conducting the interviewing: Following are a few examples of the challenges we encountered: • Difficulties in oral communication with deaf people - a written interview limits the spontaneity and the internal dynamics that develop during an in-depth interview. sign language cannot be tape-recorded. Using a sign language interpreter introduces a third party into the interview. Whenever a narrative is translated and thus transformed into a different language, it may reduce some authenticity. • People with CP may also have speech difficulties, which may result in unclear speech which is hard to transcribe from tape. • When interviewing people with severe visual impairment - there might be difficulties setting up a place for the meeting due to mobility limitations, unless they are willing to be interviewed at home. Ethical issues When the successful participants ask not to be identified, maintaining their autonomy may be challenging, since these people are fairly unique due to the combination of their disability and their occupational status (e.g., a judge with CP) and could be easily identified even if a pseudonym was used. Thus, altering additional identifying information may be necessary, even at the risk of omitting important information. Discussion This study created opportunities for the two researchers to meet successful people with disabilities. These encounters posed several complex dilemmas and challenges. In our presentation we will discuss these dilemmas and challenges and we will describe how we chose to cope with them successfully, to voice these unique participants’ authentic and inspiring narrative.
Althauser, K. (2015). Job-embedded professional development: its impact on teacher self-efficacy and student performance. Teacher Development, 19(2), 210-225. Bandura, A. (2011). A social cognitive perspective on positive psychology. Revista de Psicologia Social, 26, 7-20. Braun-Lewensohn, O., Sagy, S., & Roth, G. (2011). Adolescents under missile sense of coherence as a mediator between exposure and stress related reactions. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 195-197. Dunn, D. S., & Burcaw, S. (2013). Disability identity: Exploring narrative accounts of disability. Rehabilitation Psychology, 58(2), 148-157. Hobfoll, S. E. (2001). The influence of culture, community, and the nested‐self in the stress process: advancing conservation of resources theory. Applied psychology, 50(3), 337-421. Holley, K. A., & Colyar, J. (2009). Rethinking texts: Narrative and the construction of qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 38(9), 680–686. King, D. D., Newman, A., & Luthans, F. (2015). Not if, but when we need resilience in the workplace. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37, 782–786. Malhotra, R., & Rowe, M. (2014). Exploring disability identity and disability rights through narratives. Reino Unido: Routledge. Morse, J. M. (1994). Designing funded qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 220-235). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Nind, M. (2008). Conducting qualitative research with people with learning, communication and other disabilities: Methodological challenges. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper (Report No. NCRM/012). Ong, A. D., Bergman, C, S., Bisconti, T, L., & Wallace, K, A. (2006). Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 730-749. Reiff, H. B., Gerber, P. J., & Ginsberg, R. (1997). Exceeding expectations: Successful adults with learning disabilities. Austin, Texas: Pro-Ed. Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction. In M. Csikszentmihalyi (Ed.), Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology (pp. 279-298). Netherlands: Springer. Spector-Mersel, G. (2010). Narrative research: Time for a paradigm. Narrative Inquiry, 20(1), 204-224.
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