A Narrative Approach to Understand Students’ Identities and Choices

  • Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard
  • Lars Ulriksen
  • Lene Møller Madsen


This chapter demonstrates how narrative theory in general, and narrative psychology in particular, contribute to understand how students make meaning of their choice of post-secondary studies. In particular two central ideas within the theory are unfolded; the concept of identity and the concept of time. The applicability of the theory is discussed using empirical examples. The chapter argues that a narrative approach provides an understanding of choice of study as continuous processes where individuals work on their identities in terms of negotiating and constructing a coherent choice-narrative. As a consequence future studies need to be careful when interpreting student statements about how they always wanted to study a particular subject. Narrative psychology illustrates how we need to contextualize this ‘always’ in terms of the students’ current position, cultural context and meaning making. At the end of the chapter consequences for future research are discussed as well as how this approach to students’ choices of study contributes to our understanding of students’ science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) choices.


Study Programme Meaning Making Narrative Research Narrative Identity Narrative Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard
    • 1
  • Lars Ulriksen
    • 1
  • Lene Møller Madsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Science EducationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen CDenmark

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