Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Kathleen Bennett DeMarrais

Committee Members

Carol Kasworm, Clinton Allison, Howard Pollio


This is a study of six college teachers' narratives of their experiences of their students' stories of learning. These six teachers took part in a two year project supported by Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), in which participants created opportunities in their courses for their students to tell their stories of learning, thereby allowing their students to self-assess their learning and senses of self as learners. Their students' stories became a context for these teachers to reflect upon their teaching and senses of self as teachers. Results of the FIPSE project showed they made significant changes in their practice. What was yet to be learned was the teachers' experiences of their students' stories of learning. This study offers a phenomenological description and storied interpretation of the narratives of their experiences.

The phenomenological interview was selected as the appropriate context for these teachers to tell their experience. Their telling took the form of narrative. The texts of the interviews were studied to describe the essential themes of their experience of their students' stories of learning and to interpret them in ways that respected the particular narrative qualities of the stories each told.

In the analysis of the texts of their interviews each teacher is first introduced through a description of a basic metaphor that emerges in his/her telling, followed by the themes in his/her stories. Six general themes emerged from this analysis: Telling- Listening/Hearing, Not Knowing- Knowing, Complication, Connection, Responsible Response, Change. Each theme is described as it is nuanced by each teacher. This leads to a matrix that relates the general themes and each teacher's experience -- one can trace a theme across the experience of the six teachers and also trace the six themes through the experience of each teacher.

The general themes are then configured as events, actions or happenings into a plot of a meta-narrative of the six teachers' stories of their experience of their students' stories of learning. In a storied analysis, the experience of each is re-storied in light of this plot, returning the narrative to each individual teacher.

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