Storytelling Instructional Strategy


For thousands of years, storytelling has been the key means of instruction or approach in cultures around the world. In some cultures, storytelling has been the major way to convey society’s culture, values, and history without using any written language. Prevailing methods of learning such as lectures and memorization are less suited for training learners as they yield very little in terms of generalization, duration, and speed of knowledge acquisition. Many a times learners do not understand the purpose of the training they are undergoing. All these challenges have prompted many scholars to promote methods of learning that get the most out of social and contextual aspects of learning.

The premise of storytelling approach is that learning is most effective when it takes place in a social environment that provides authentic contextual cues about how the knowledge is to be applied. Various domains such as military, aviation, medical, law, and many others rely heavily on storytelling as the method for teaching the key facts of their discipline.

Storytelling positions images in learner minds and makes them do the job easily. This strategy is being used presently by organizations in bringing strategic changes (within the organizations) by encouraging and focusing learners on what they have learnt previously. The emotional aspect associated with this approach makes it the most perfect training tool for subjects such as leadership, diversity, communications and change management.

Telling a story enables people to look at issues without feeling personally threatened. The stories can be used on a one-to-one basis or in group situations, probably to set the theme or kick-start a discussion. Using a story can take people away from the work environment and let them get into a topic in a non-threatening way.

There are various approaches in storytelling; most common ones are; Case-based, Scenario-based, Problem-based, and Narrative-based. Although these approaches vary in their application, but their underlying philosophy remains the same for all types of target audiences. People learn best by actively participating, questioning and collaborating in an authentic and contextually rich setting.

In my next article, I will share more about the different types of story-based instructional methods.

Keep watching this space.


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