Telling Their Story: Investigating The Positive Effects Of A Creative Writing Retreat On Academic Staff Development
Antoniou, M and Moriarty, J (2007) Telling Their Story: Investigating The Positive Effects Of A Creative Writing Retreat On Academic Staff Development In: Society for Research into Higher Education, 11-13 December 2007, Brighton, UK. (Unpublished)
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The value of creative writing techniques on personal and vocational development in a HE setting has been extensively researched and detailed in recent years (Brew and Boud 1996; Pennebaker 1997) Although writing retreats for academics have been reported as having a positive effect on the participants (Moore 2003; Murray 2005), the long term benefits on staff development are not entirely clear. This paper seeks to build on existing work in the field by interviewing academics from the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex who participated in two writing retreats held in March and April of 2007. Interviews have been carried out in order to evaluate the notion that retreats might be more than a pleasurable experience for those who take part and to evaluate any tangible effects on academic staff development. In the course of the paper, the writer also seeks to explore their identity as a new researcher and their struggle to write within an academic framework while remaining faithful to their creative voice. The paper seeks to provide narratives from the retreat participants are in-keeping with the holistic approach to staff development and self discovery that the writing retreats sought to provide. The methods consist of semi-structured interviews with an emphasis on facilitating a conversation rather than an interrogation using client and therapist models and a catalytic approach to interviewing. The paper seeks to make suggestions for taking the retreats forward in order to support academic staff development and to explore issues of writing in an academically rigorous way that manages to tell an engaging story. The author will reflect on their experience and difficulties with telling the stories of their interviewees. Post-graduate and newer researchers who are having problems with academic writing or telling the story of their research may be interested in this session.
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