Abstract of Study Related to Storytelling

Here is an interesting research abstract about using storytelling or narrative in instruction.

Opening The Knowledge Guru with a story.

Opening The Knowledge Guru with a story.


Glonek, K. L., & King, P. E. (2014). Listening to Narratives: An Experimental Examination of Storytelling in the Classroom. International Journal Of Listening, 28(1), 32-46. doi:10.1080/10904018.2014.861302

This study looks at an oral presentation of content in both a narrative format and an expository format with a look at pacing as well. Narrative format is more effective. I also include some language from the discussion portion of the study as well.

In an age of PowerPoint, much everyday public communication is semantically organized as an expository
presentation. This contrasts with traditional approaches such as storytelling that are episodically
organized and presented as narratives. The constructivist theory of narrative comprehension, along
with other theoretical perspectives, suggests that a narrative form should present advantages related
to listening retention. Further, it is argued that organization could interact with communication load
in determining the likelihood of recalling information. In a controlled experiment, participants listened to videotaped instruction presented in either narrative or expository form and presented at
either a normal or a moderately compressed rate. Results indicate a relationship between organization
and retention such that audience members retain more information when it is presented in a
narrative style and when it is presented at a normal presentation rate. Practically, the results suggest advantages for narrative form in the everyday practice of instructional communication. Theoretically, the results demonstrate that constructivist theory of narrative comprehension is relevant to contexts beyond written texts—to listening contexts.

From the discussion of the article:

Overall, the findings of this study support the claim that the ability
to recall information is partially dependent on whether the information is presented in expository
or narrative form and at a normal or accelerated rate. Specifically, hypotheses one and two were
confirmed: audience members retain more information when it is presented in a narrative style
and when it is presented at a normal presentation rate.

One possible explanation for the significant advantage of narrative organization over expository
organization (and an important value of the present study) can be found in the constructionist
theory of narrative comprehension (Graesser et al., 1994; Zwaan et al., 1995). While this theory
focuses on text structure, this significant finding (H1) suggests that it can also be applied to oral
presentations. Vidal-Abarca et al.’s (2000) found that narrative texts were easier to read than
expository texts. The implications from that study can now include oral presentations as well:
when reading stories (and listening to presentations) people continually make inferences, but
when reading or listening to expository material it is more difficult to make inferences because
the content and organization are unfamiliar.


Graesser, A. C., Singer, M., & Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101, 371–395.

Vidal-Abarca, E., Martinez, G., & Gilabert, R. (2000). Two procedures to improve instructional text: Effects on memory and learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 107–116.

Zwaan, R. A., Langston, M. C., & Graesser, A. C. (1995). The construction of situation models in narrative comprehension. Psychological Science, 6, 292–297.

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