Experimenting with Narrative Storytelling as a teaching and learning strategy

Kavanagh-McBride, Louise and Mulgrew, Breda (2013) Experimenting with Narrative Storytelling as a teaching and learning strategy. In: 6th Annual Learning Innovation Network Conference – Sustainable Models of Student Engagement – Rhetoric or Achievable? 17th October 2013 in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin., Dublin, Ireland.


The fundamental value of higher education must ensure students’ foster and attribute a spirit of inquiry that stimulates creativity, imagination and innovation. A quality student experience must equip graduates with essential generic foundation skills of analytical reasoning and critical thinking. Commitment to different teaching and learning approaches are required in respect of all higher education programmes. Storytelling provides capacity to bring together ideas, facts in a sharpened focus, helping the listener to picture a personal situation through his or her eyes (Emden, 1998). In a personal journey of discovery and experimentation the author attempted to sharpen that focus and foster higher order cognitive skills for her students, and proceeded to write ‘my story’. The origins of ‘my story’ was of a true life experience, as a parent and a qualified professional accessing and utilising the healthcare system with her daughter. Emden (1998) stated that storytelling has the ability to cross individual, cultural and educational differences making it more powerful than other types of information and learning. This paper outlines how ‘my story’ was enacted through role play with the assistance of two colleagues, delivered and critiqued by a class of undergraduate final year student nurses. As we continue to inhabit a fast paced, technologically driven sophisticated complex society, we need to take time to listen and reflect upon personal experiences. Teaching strategies need to embrace reflection and critical thinking skills which emphasise the human aspect of caring through student centred approaches to learning. Narrative storytelling provided an exciting and different possibility for meeting learning outcomes of an ever expanding curriculum, whilst nurturing and enhancing reflective and critical thinking skills to gain a renewed understanding of the importance of listening and learning. Storytelling provides a creative, powerful and meaningful teaching and learning strategy for all disciplines to do just that; listen, reflect and learn.

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