A story about stories: An investigation into the role of storytelling in professional education

Garbett, Georgina (2022) A story about stories: An investigation into the role of storytelling in professional education. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Georgina Garbett PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Nov 2021_Final Award Apr 2022.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (3MB)


Storytelling affords many benefits for professional education, but it is not an instinctive craft. Its usage is often under-valued, under-utilised, under-researched and enmeshed in contention. Yet storytelling can be employed to challenge orthodoxies: “Through narrative we construct, reconstruct, in some ways reinvent yesterday and tomorrow” (Bruner, 2002: 93). I propose that storytelling is a form of embodied capital, situated within cultural capital and social capital, and that nurturing storytelling capital helps to develop professional skills and understanding. A core of advocates testify to storytelling’s suitability for use in professional education, however, my research shows that its usage is more nuanced and complex. It is opaque, lying on the periphery of our pedagogical toolkit, with anecdotal stories, in particular, often dismissed as having little pedagogical value. In this sense it is hidden practice.

This thesis investigates the professional landscape of storytelling in one university in the Midlands, England, within a socio-cultural context. I explore how practitioner educators use stories by mapping story incidences against a story typology and analysing pedagogical interactions. Through this research I witnessed the intricacies of pedagogical storytelling, leading to the discovery of new categories of “historical”, “conglomerated” and “fractured” stories. Employing a narrative ontology and narrative inquiry epistemology, I introduced Story Circles for Research as spaces for practitioner educators to reflect on their storytelling practice. Methodologically, and in line with the focus on oral storytelling, I developed Trickster Methodology, employing trickster archetypes as research “partners” and provocateurs to analyse and articulate my empirical “noticings”. Previously, practitioners’ views on storytelling had been virtually unexplored. This research unearthed fascinating new perspectives on benefits, challenges, and dangers of using storytelling, revealing deep complexities and tensions, alongside their vulnerabilities and tentativeness in using storytelling productively and safely. Despite these complexities and challenges, participants had never received any training or guidance in storytelling techniques.

My research calls for storytelling practices to be unveiled and reclaimed in the twenty-first century, revitalised to create new imaginings for teaching and learning. I propose practitioner educators work towards employing a Trickster Pedagogy, that centres on storytelling and trickster-thinking. Ultimately, the versatile characteristics of stories allow them to be used for multiple purposes to benefit students’ development, their elusive nature potentially creating a counterpoint to the grand narratives of performativity, neoliberalism and capitalism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
1 November 2021Submitted
8 April 2022Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: storytelling, storytelling pedagogy, professional education, nurse educators, teacher educators, initial teacher education, Trickster Methodology, Trickster Pedagogy, educator perspectives, Storytelling Capital
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-02 - teacher training
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Education and Social Work
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2022 13:58
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2022 13:58
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13599

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


In this section...