Wednesday, August 1, 5:00-5:30, SUB Ballroom D, Theme: Profession

In the introduction to Doing Educational Research in Rural Settings (2014), Michael Corbett calls on young scholars of rural education to “develop more theoretically attuned methodologies” (1) that honor rural ways of living and learning. Coladarci (2007), in his editorial “Swan Song”, echoes the need for rectify “methodological and substantive shortcomings” (1) in rural education research. However, in their attempt to avoid essentializing rural peoples and research methodologies, neither scholar discusses particular methodological approaches in depth. Similarly, they avoid prescribing specific research methods. While other writers have argued for reciprocal research relationships between researcher and participant in rural research (Kvalsund and Hargreaves, 2014; Brann-Barrett, 2014; Eppley and Corbett, 2012), these writers do not directly recognize the ways in which reciprocity can be practiced as method. Drawing on indigenous scholars Kovach (2009) and Wilson (2008), as well as my own observations and experiences conducting formal research as a rural insider, I argue that conversation as method not only fulfills the call for reciprocity, but also allows participants to share their experiences in more authentic contexts. As a form of narrative inquiry, this method allows research to occur spontaneously, organically, unmediated by the alienating, metrocentric (Corbett, 2007; 2014) trappings of academic research—and yet, for all of the allowances conversation as method offers, it also violates many accepted norms of academic research, thus rendering it difficult to pursue with institutional endorsement. This presentation explores the benefits and limitations of conversation as method and attempts to continue the ongoing development of rurally attuned methodologies.