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Telling Tales Leads to Better Learning

Express News (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) , February 27, 2008


The history of Alberta's mining industry might seem like dry material for a Grade 4 classroom, but the right story can bring any topic to life, says a University of Alberta researcher.

Jillian Yawney, a graduate student from the U of A School of Library and Information Studies, is passionate about storytelling. She believes it's much more than entertainment. "It's an interactive teaching method that leaves students naturally wanting to learn more," she said.

Yawney did a storytelling study, with a group of Grade 4 Edmonton students. She wanted to see if storytelling was an effective teaching tool and if it would help the students understand how to conduct research.

She told the students the legendary tale of The Lost Lemon Mine, a tale of adventure, betrayal, murder and a curse in the years before the Klondike gold rush.

At the end of her study, Yawney discovered the storytelling approach engaged the students and got them excited about learning.

"I found there was a sharp increase in their motivation, their imaginations were definitely engaged," she asid.

In interviews, students made comments like "when you were storytelling a little mini movie was running in my head and that's just where all the ideas came from" and "I want to find out more because I liked your stories."

Subjects Covered: education

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