Narrative Inquiry in Engineering Education: A Systematic Literature Review

Alexandra Mary Jackson, Cheryl A. Bodnar

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


    This systematic literature review is a theory/methods paper that addresses the state of current literature in engineering education applying narrative inquiry. As areas of research within engineering education have become more exploratory, qualitative research has focused on understanding the engineering student experience through inclusion of students' personal perspectives. One qualitative research method that has been found to be beneficial in this goal is the incorporation of narrative inquiry, which utilizes narrative theory to collect stories from engineering students. Literature reviews in narrative research have not yet specifically focused on the use of this methodology in engineering education. To address this gap, we conducted a systematic literature review by searching across four databases: Google Scholar, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and ERIC, for the terms "storytelling", "story-driven learning", and "narrative", and paired each of these terms with the search terms "engineering education" and "entrepreneurial mindset". The search resulted in 309 unique articles. The papers were screened by title, abstract, and full paper based on the following criteria: written after 2010, original research papers, related to engineering or entrepreneurship, and content focused on undergraduate students. Papers were limited to post-2010 due to Karan Watson's discussion about the potential impact of stories to encourage change at the 2010 ASEE Conference. A total of 33 papers remained after the screening process. We then classified the papers based on various parameters, including populations of interest, methods of data collection and analysis, and underlying themes identified through the application of narrative inquiry. We found that narrative inquiry studies often focus on underrepresented groups of engineering students or students involved in a specific intervention or experience. We identified three narrative data collection methods with individual interviewing used 70% of the time, likely due to the intimate and personal approach this method allows. Narrative analysis methods were more diverse, though thematic analysis and qualitative coding were the most commonly used throughout the papers, which may be due to their flexibility and applicability to many types of scenarios. We suggest that due to the limited work in the area of narrative inquiry in engineering education, more research should be done to collect and interpret students' stories to better highlight the engineering student experience.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
    StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
    Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
    Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • General Engineering


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