n South African Journal of Higher Education - To become an asker of questions. A 'functional-narrative' model to assist students in preparing postgraduate research proposals

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



At the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, a 'functional-narrative' model (FNM) to stimulate thinking, questioning and reflection is being developed with undergraduate and postgraduate students in a range of subject areas. The FNM implies that a basic narrative structure operates in academic discourse, through various kinds of texts across disciplines (Hilsdon 1999). The approach is underpinned by the functional logic and social practices implied in a narrative structure consisting of description, analysis and evaluation. Initial evidence indicates that the model is helpful to students in deconstructing and reconstructing a given problem, topic or knowledge claim. A possible use of the FNM to assist postgraduate students in developing research proposals is now being investigated in South African universities, where academics are being consulted as to its potential. This article reports initial findings evaluating its use in that context, and elaborates on the model's background and underpinning theory.

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