Part of the puzzle: the retrospective interview as reflexive practice in ethnographic collaborative research

Budach, Gabriele (2012) Part of the puzzle: the retrospective interview as reflexive practice in ethnographic collaborative research In, Gardner, Sheena and Martin-Jones, Marilyn (eds.) Multilingualism, Discourse and Ethnography. Abingdon, GB, Routledge pp. 319-333. (Routledge Critical Studies in Multilingualism).


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This chapter examines the retrospective interview as a site of knowledge construction in collaborative ethnographic research. It is argued that, as a method of qualitative research and as part of reflexive practice, this kind of interview contributes substantially to the understanding of processes of changes in educational practice. By giving practitioners a voice, new knowledge as a kind of “living theory” (Whitehead & McNiff, 2006) is made available to inform and inspire educational research and practice.

This chapter engages with a particular instance of a retrospective interview, that of discussing practitioners’ reflection on cross-linguistic and cross-subject team teaching and bilingual curriculum development in a bilingual two-way immersion program. It brings together three participants: two teachers from diverse linguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds and me, an academic researcher. We have been involved in a four year collaborative ethnographic study on bilingual literacy teaching and learning in a primary school in Frankfurt/Germany. As we have been closely collaborating partners for several years, my role, as researcher, in the interview has mainly been one of facilitating the reflective process and of creating the opportunity for this momentum of knowledge building.

The retrospective interview is being analysed as an instance of reflection on shared practice in which knowledge about new kinds of practices crystallises in the co-constructed account of the interview participants. The analysis shows how team-teaching unfolds as a challenging collective learning experience leading to curricular innovation. The retrospective interview also emphasises the paramount role of teachers as agents of social change in negotiating institutionally based norms which have different currency in varying national contexts.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 9780415874946 (print)
9780203143179 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Organisations: Modern Languages
ePrint ID: 345587
Date :
Date Event
9 May 2012Published
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2012 16:41
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 16:20
Further Information:Google Scholar

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