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Title: Exploring narratives of success in learning in a Key Stage Three Pupil Referral Unit : an appreciative inquiry through a dialogic narrative lens
Author: Coates, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 2056
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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Research has elicited the views of young people and teaching staff surrounding learning in PRUs, however there is a need for greater inquiry focusing on bridging communication between students and staff members. Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) are under a high level of scrutiny related to their academic outcomes (Taylor, 2012), but the voices of young people and PRU staff are largely absent from this political discourse. This small-scale, social constructionist research study explored narratives elicited in the context of an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) on the topic of successful learning. It engaged young people and staff from a Key Stage Three inner-London PRU, in mixed focus group discussions, following a 4-D Cycle of Appreciative Inquiry (Discover, Dream, Design, Destiny; Cooperrider, Barrett & Srivastva, 1995). To complement AI’s emphasis on the use of storytelling to evoke shared meanings, the research utilised Dialogic Narrative Analysis for a deeper exploration of narratives constructed. It draws upon the dialogic concepts of polyphony (multiple voices apparent within an individual voice), heteroglossia (codes of language from communities; Bakhtin, 1981), and positioning (how people and institutions are related to one another and the self, within an individual’s talk; Frank, 2012). The purpose of the research was not to access a truth about these voices, but to identify these features within narratives. Patterns identified in narrative production helped to make sense of how students and staff members constructed narratives of success in learning. They related to how students positioned themselves within narratives of what both they and others need; how they constructed mainstream and PRU entities (and teachers within both) in contrast to one another; as well as the discourses and genres drawn upon within their narratives. Divergences are noted where narratives are constructed to be appreciative to some, but not to others. The Appreciative Inquiry elicited visions for the future of the PRU, towards which, staff members constructed tangible actions. Implications for Educational Psychology practice are considered, including critical reflection on the use of Appreciative Inquiry in the PRU context, and its limitations.
Supervisor: Lewis, Victoria Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.C.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available