Narrative processes of identity construction: Micro indicators of developmental patterns following transition to university

Nancy J. Bell, Elizabeth Wieling, Wendy Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Research strategies are needed that enable investigators to examine linkages between real-time, micro identity processes and longer term, ontogenetic processes. We address this topic in analyses of semistructured interviews with 10 entering university students, continued over a 2-year period. Our ontogenetic narrative analysis was based on Freeman and Robinson's (1990) formulation of the developmental process. The micro analysis was guided by Josephs and Valsiner's (1998) dialogical approach to meaning construction. Differences were found in incidence and configurations of micro indicators for students whose narratives reflected the strongest developmental change over the study period, compared to students who told narratives of stability. The former group of students, compared to the latter, had spiked rather than flat configurations of micro indicators over time. Students in the former group were more likely to state oppositions in their interviews, which we interpret as a problem-generation mechanism. They were also more likely to express negative affect in conjunction with these oppositions and to follow up the oppositions with change-oriented statements. We argue that longitudinal interview studies, particularly when initiated during times of transition, offer good potential for the identification of micro-ontogenetic linkages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by an award from the College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. We gratefully acknowledge the interviewing assistance of Yvonne Caldera, and we are especially indebted to the student participants who willingly devoted many hours of their time to the project.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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