Narrative Gerontology in Practice: Students’ Experiences With Conducting Autoethnography

Othelia E. Lee, Laneshia Conner, Boyd Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study examines the benefits of introducing autoethnographic writing as part of an ageism intervention to familiarize students with the life course. In this mixed-methods study, 186 graduate and undergraduate students conducted interviews with a grandparent or older adult and subsequently assumed the identity of the grandparent to write introductions of themselves as if they were that grandparent, using “I” statements in an online discussion forum. Most assumed grandparents were women (78.0%), and White (63.8%) with an average age of 77.3 (SD = 12.3). Emerging themes were categorized into three levels: structural, familial, and individual. The number of times a certain theme was mentioned was counted and major themes were analyzed. Findings indicated how autoethnographic reflections can promote student examination of self-awareness, cultural heritages, and personal growth. This technique is encouraging as an educational ageism intervention and warrants further adaptation and testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study is funded by Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund and the Scholarship in Teaching and Learning grant at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • autoethnography
  • gerontology education
  • mixed-methods
  • multicultural
  • narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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