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Story completion: storying as a method of meaning making and discursive discovery in higher education

Gravett, Karen (2020) Story completion: storying as a method of meaning making and discursive discovery in higher education International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18. pp. 1-8.

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This article focuses on a method of data collection that exists in the margins of qualitative research: story completion. Story completion has a background of usage within disciplines such as psychology, feminist theory and psychotherapy. However, this method is still uncommon and underutilised, and has not been widely put to work as an approach for qualitative education research, despite its rich potential as a tool for accessing participants’ meaning-making. In this article, I argue that story completion can serve as an interesting and flexible method for researchers across the disciplines, particularly for those looking to adopt a poststructuralist lens, concerned with discursive discovery: the surfacing of discourses individuals draw upon to write. I introduce and explain a divergent approach to doing story completion from that described elsewhere in the literature, where a story completion exercise is enhanced by the addition of a traditional semi-structured interview. I also share an experimental approach to data analysis: using a rhizomatic perspective to analyse story completion data. Ultimately, I argue that story completion, the story-mediated interview, and a more experimental analytical approach, offer exciting new directions for qualitative researchers to pursue.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Department of Higher Education
Authors :
Date : 1 January 2020
DOI : 10.1177/1609406919893155
OA Location :
Copyright Disclaimer : Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Uncontrolled Keywords : Story completion; Story-mediated interview; Higher education; Student transitions; Rhizome
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 15 Nov 2019 13:15
Last Modified : 05 May 2020 22:06

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