<  Back

511 Personal Narratives: An Experiential Approach to Effective Data Collection

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM PT
Thursday, October 21

Tracks: Data & Measurement

Gathering evidence to inform an effective instructional design for staff training can be a challenging, not to mention time-consuming, enterprise. Instructional designers who are offered limited resources to undertake this task may struggle to accurately capture a comprehensive picture. Employing the right data collection strategies for a needs assessment is central to tackle such limitations. Surveys are a quick, low-cost, and commonly used strategy to get the job done. However, they may offer a limited scope of reality. Interviews, on the other hand, can offer a more complete rendering of reality. More specifically, they allow designers to dig deeper into individuals’ needs and interests. Still, they may take longer to implement and capture a partial representation of reality. What if instructional designers employed an experiential approach to accomplish their goals while tackling these limitations?

In this session you will learn about personal narratives, an experiential approach to data collection. Personal narratives focus on capturing the stories of individuals, groups, and organizations in a holistic and timely manner. This approach comprises two data collection strategies‚ namely shadowing and conversations. You will learn how and why to implement shadowing and conversations for data collection in your projects. Shadowing consists of closely observing staff members’ behavior and performance in real-life situations during their everyday routine. Conversations allow instructional designers to build rapport with staff members through informal dialogues. Evidence in conversations takes the form of detailed personal accounts that help to confirm staff members’ needs and shortcomings, as well as to reveal their wants (expectations). You can implement these strategies simultaneously, within your established timeframe, to leverage your time availability. Both strategies work in concert, complementing each other.

This session will offer a real-life case study on the occupational English language needs of airport customs officials in Costa Rica in the design of a training program. The case study will serve to illustrate the implementation and effectiveness of personal narratives. You will look at sample data collection templates featuring the two strategies and reflect on possible applications of personal narratives in your own projects. These templates will work as aids for future implementation.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Why surveys and interviews are not always effective data collection strategies
  • How and why you should implement shadowing and conversations for data collection in your projects
  • What makes personal narratives a successful approach to data collection
  • Why you should consider personal narratives for your future projects

Danying Chen

Private Consultant

Roberto Rojas Alfaro

Assistant Professor

University of Costa Rica

Roberto Rojas-Alfaro, PhD is a Fulbright-LASPAU scholar, a Technology Innovation in Educational Research and Design (TIER-ED) fellow, and an assistant professor at Universidad de Costa Rica. His research focuses on English for specific purposes and informal learning in mobile environments. Through collaborative and interdisciplinary work, he has designed, co-created, and measured the impact of text-based and digital tools, and mediated over available technologies to facilitate English language learners’ success toward a multilingual education.