Duoethnographic Projects in the Classroom

Robert J. Lowe, Ochanomizu University Luke Lawrence, Nihon University

Quick Guide

  • Keyword: duoethnography, collaborative project work
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Learner maturity: University
  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Activity time: 9 hours (including homework) spread over several classes
  • Materials: Worksheets (see Appendices), recording devices

This activity adapts duoethnography for the classroom. Duoethnography is a research method in which two researchers investigate a topic using their life histories. In this activity, students work in pairs to discuss their personal experiences connected to a chosen research topic. Students then summarize what they learned about each other and the topic by writing semi-fictionalised dialogues.



Step 1: Make sure students have recording devices such as smartphones (one between two is enough).

Step 2: Prepare an example of a written duoethnography to act as a model for length and style (see Appendix A).

Step 3: Prepare a list of possible research topics (see Appendix B).

Step 4: Prepare an example of a coded transcript (see Appendix C).



Step 1: Explain the project and show the students the sample duoethnography for reference. This can be done as a short lecture/listening activity.

Step 2: Put Students in pairs or groups of three and have them choose a topic to discuss. They can choose from the prepared list or choose their own topic. Make sure to encourage them to choose a topic they have direct experience with to ensure a richer data set.

Step 3: Ask students to discuss the topic for about ten minutes. Encourage students to share their own stories and experiences. They should record the discussion.

Step 4: Have students listen to their recordings of the discussion for homework. They should listen for points of interest and prepare five follow up points to explore more deeply with their partner. You can provide prompt questions to help with their reflections, such as “What did you learn about your partner?”, “What did you share about yourself?” and “What would you like to ask your partner more about?” (Lowe & Lawrence, 2020).

Step 5: In the following class, have students use the five points prepared at home to continue the discussion with their partner. This should again take around ten minutes and be recorded.

Step 6 (optional): Have students repeat this process as many times as necessary.

Step 7: Explain to the students that they are going to code the data. Simply tell them to look for prominent themes in the data, perhaps using keywords to help, and highlight key phrases (see Appendix C). They should then transcribe the relevant parts; short extracts are enough.

Step 8: Ask students to use the extracts collected in Step 7 to create readable dialogues. The dialogues should not be verbatim transcripts, but should reflect the main themes from the students’ discussions. The dialogues should be bookended with introduction and conclusion paragraphs (see Appendix A). Depending on student level, this can include a literature review. This can be started in class and completed at home. We recommend using a shared Google doc between the pairs.



The activity uses all four language skills, promotes positive group dynamics, encourages scaffolding, and engages the students in collaborative writing of the final piece. A duoethnography project in the class is an engaging and innovative way for students to participate in discussions that are meaningful to them on a personal level and provides experience of producing empirical research.



Lowe, R. J., & Lawrence, L. (2020). Duoethnography in the language class. In R. J. Lowe & L. Lawrence (Eds.), Duoethnography in English language teaching: Research, reflection and classroom application (pp.155-173). Multilingual Matters.



The appendices are available below: