Supporting Learners' Interaction by Means of Narrative Activities

Supporting Learners' Interaction by Means of Narrative Activities

Giuliana Dettori (Institute for Educational Technology (CNR), Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0137-6.ch007


It is widely recognized that learners are empowered by interacting with peers on relevant, content-related matters, and are encouraged to feel involved in their own educational process. In order to really support learning, however, interactions need to be structured and organized by means of some suitable pedagogical approach. In this chapter, the author argues that narratives (in the form of both fictional stories and narrations of experiences related to the object of study) can provide a pedagogical framework suitable to exploit the educational potential of interactions. The narrative is an expressive form which is natural and familiar to both children and adults and validly supports meaning-making as well as personal engagement. Moreover, it is an inherently social activity, which makes it particularly suitable to support collaborative activities. This chapter analyzes several examples of narrative activities carried out in different collaborative contexts in order to exemplify how they can be organized to efficaciously support learner interaction.
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Characterizing Narrative

Narrative (intended as stories and narrations, not simply as discursive talk, as often improperly meant in colloquial language) has been used to communicate ideas from very ancient times. It is recognized to be so much a natural expressive form that people widely rely on it to organize their experience and memory (Bruner, 2002). From early childhood and throughout life, human beings appear to be innately endowed with some “narrative intelligence” that leads them to naturally formulate and understand stories (Mateas & Sengers, 2002). Nevertheless, it is only in the past few decades that narrative has raised the interest of the educational research, thanks to the fact that scholars of various orientations have recognized its potential to support people’s sense-making and communication.

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