A review of undergraduates’ stories about their learning experiences analysed using the lens of fairy tales

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Abstract

Storytelling is an aspect of research that has gathered significant popularity but is less commonly discussed in the context of student feedback. This paper focuses on how it can be applied to improve a dialogue and relationship with the student so that their learning can be understood in more depth. Forty-seven undergraduates studying an Early Childhood degree in England shared their stories and analysis indicated a synergy between the content, the patterns and themes that are found in fairy tales. This framework led to a deeper insight into the factors that impact their learning experiences. Three structures found in fairy tales are described in this paper; ‘contractual’, which explains how rules that reflect the values of the individual are shaped by society and culture; ‘performative’, that communicate emotions experienced during struggles and challenges; and ‘disjunctive’, that describe the journey of change and transformation within the story (Greimas, 1983). Within each story the author identified examples of aspects that were strange and familiar and others that were familiar, yet strange, uncovering students’ priorities and uprooting the writer’s hidden assumptions (Bruner, 2003). The paper concludes that when lecturers analyse storytelling in this way it becomes a dialogue that contributes to relational pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
JournalResearch in Education
Volume114
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • storytelling
  • fairy tales
  • relational pedagogy
  • higher education
  • student experience

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