Investigating the Emotional Impact of Narrative Dialogue on Struggling Readers’ Discovery of Learning Potential
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I investigated the cognitive, emotional and embodied responses to reading of four children/youth who experienced struggles with reading using phenomenology of embodiment (Husserl, 1913/2012; Taipale, 2014) as a theoretical framework and taking the role of an interpretive phenomenological approach (IPA) researcher (Smith & Osborne, 2007; Van Manen, 1997). Narrative theory (Bal, 2009; Chase, 2005; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Denison, 2016; White, 2007) supported the primary methodological and research approach complemented by the use of arts-based inquiry (Campbell, 1949/2008; Doherty, 1990; Gladwin, 2014; O’Donoghue, 2006) to probe stories about how participants thought and felt about their reading struggles and through dialogue individual learning strengths were discovered. The narrative approach provided an opportunity to ask how emotions and embodiment played a role in the reading process. I explored children and youths’ embodied experiences through narratives around reading and reading challenges, as they experienced reading difficulties and discovered learning strength during interview conversations about a reading challenge. Life narratives can change as emotions are evoked and described (Angus & Greenberg, 2011; White, 2007, 2011). As a listener, questioner, and recorder of these stories, I was not neutral and my own reflexivity played a role in the data collection [i.e., I was aware that I needed to evaluate my relationship with my participants because I had an influence on them by the observations and dialogues we had (Goldstein, 2017)]. This research focused on: (a) the emotional impact of reading deficits and children/youths’ discovery of cognitive learning strengths; (b) the influence of emotions on the children/youths’ and parents’ perceptions of the struggling reader lived experience; and (c) children/youths’ awareness of their own emotional experiences and cognitive processes when reading leading to connections between the embodied reaction and cognitive processes signaling that this phenomenon related to realizing a learning strength. Implications for future research involve exploring further the dialogic approach to discovering learning strengths and how to apply them to reading challenges that trigger a visceral emotional response. This research contributes to a theory that emotional meta-awareness maybe necessary to guide metacognitive reading strategies. There is a connection between embodied-emotional responses, reading challenges, and the discovery of learning strengths. Metacognitive awareness is heightened by being able to interpret the visceral emotional responses possibly leading children/youth to be aware when they have a learning strength that they can apply independently by listening to their body while completing a challenging reading task.