Crossing Borders to Connect Routes
Researching with educational communities to promote equity and fight racism towards immigrants in a post-pandemic world

News: Crossing Borders Methodological Workshop

Crossing Borders to Connect Routes was conceived with the general objective of determining
how structural and emergent inequities against racialized and minoritized immigrants operate
in different educational contexts, and how these inequities can be ameliorated from
educational policies and practices, in particular considering the corresponding impact of the
COVID-19 pandemic.

Given that our project consists of a transnational case study to be carried out by researchers
from six different universities in five countries across three continents, working with a diversity
of subjects based on their different geopolitical contexts, and knowing that this situation can
easily lead to methodological discrepancies, we have made it a point to organize group
sessions for the purpose of finding common talking points and homogenizing our research
practices, despite such differing contexts.

To this end, and based on the joint decision to follow a dynamic-narrative approach for the
project, this past June 14 th , Dr. Colette Daiute and PhD candidate Sham Habteselasse led a
team session entitled “Dynamic Narrative Research Workshop. Research Design Theory &
Methodology.” The workshop began with an Introduction to Dynamic Narrative Inquiry and a
hands-on exercise in implementing the process of Designing a Relational Database for Critical
Inquiry.

They explained the principles of dynamic storytelling design, emphasizing the relational,
material, diverse and active features of narrative discourses, as well as the ethical dimensions
of the said principles. They spoke of the implications for research design, dividing purpose into
interaction, actors, genres, and questions, while bringing up the topic of the units of analysis as
a key figure in the organization of the design.

They stressed how language serves to mediate meaning in social relations, and its way of
linking an individual with their purpose and their peers, as well as how it always occurs within
a web of communications, socially, affectively, and materially, not to mention both implicitly
and explicitly.

They posed somewhat targeted, yet still open-ended, prompts as examples of ways to broach
topics of interest within the subjects’ discourse, eliciting the sharing of specific experiences
and knowledge, in addition to the possibility of comparisons with other subjects. In the
example cited, these included asking the subjects to share their journeys to their current roles,
a positive experience within the role and a negative experience in the same role, and they
asked them to write a letter to other people in their same organization, or someone else
creating a likeminded organization, educators, etc., envisioning how their advice might benefit
the people reading the letter.

With the corresponding responses from the subjects, the research team could feasibly extract
both high/low points and turning points in the subjects’ experiences, which would contribute
valuable information to the project, regardless of the specific context in question.
Working in smaller groups, for cultural or contextual ease, the team worked on thoroughly
plotting out the study subjects, starting out at the generalized macro level, and ending up at
the individual interviewee level, as well as beginning to discuss actual narrative prompts that
could be used in their specific cases.

As Colette and Sham explained, the following steps to follow would be strategies for design
and data collection, as well as subsequent analyses; along these lines, they proposed a follow-
up autumn workshop on data analysis.

For methodological purposes, this session was of the utmost importance, as it allowed team
members to envision and start planning their application of the dynamic-narrative approach to
their respective contributions to the project. It also served to highlight those areas with the
greatest potential difficulties in aligning with the rest of the team, which is always better to do
at the beginning of a project than at the end.

The session ended on a positive, optimistic note, with the different partners much better
attuned to the methods that will be expected of them as a unit.

For further information, please contact: cdaiute@gc.cuny.edu

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