"i told you this last time, right?": Re-visiting narratives of STEM education

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Computer Science

Conference Title

ICER 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research


Association for Computing Machinery


Espoo, Finland

Conference Dates

August 13-15, 2018

Date of Presentation



The stories we tell ourselves and others - both as individuals and as a community - reflect how we make sense of our lives. Our work using narrative methods has explored how university graduates make sense of their learning experiences and how these fit within their wider learning trajectories. In this paper, we discuss work we conducted with a group of a dozen students who, when first interviewed, were in the second half of their undergraduate education at Olin College of Engineering. All twelve participants were re-interviewed four years later, after they had graduated, using the same narrative protocol that asked them to describe their learning 'life' as if it was a book, and to identify and describe individual chapters of their experience. The pairs of interviews were analysed with respect to their form and their content. In regard to form, a classification of these repeated stories is derived. Thematic analysis of the content examines a) how students come to study and practice computing and b) the continuing, and changing influence of a university education over time, as students construct an individual sense of coherence.

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