Date of Award

8-9-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Peggy Albers, PhD - Chair

Second Advisor

Joyce Many, PhD

Third Advisor

Dana Fox, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Sheryl Gowen

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the use of storytelling as a teaching strategy in the classrooms of three experienced elementary school teachers. Storytelling is defined in this study as the use of a narrative, spoken or written, in prose or in verse, true or fictitious, related so as to inform, entertain, or instruct the listener or reader. This research answers questions concerning; (a) what constitutes storytelling in these teachers’ classrooms, (b) teachers’ purposes for using storytelling, and (c) factors that have encouraged these teachers to employ storytelling in their teaching practices. Framed within constructivist theory, the study provides insight into how these three respondents teach content through storytelling and bridge information from teller to listener. Data collection included classroom observations, interviews of teacher-participants, and the collection of teacher-generated artifacts such as lesson plans and teacher notes. Portraiture is used as a method for writing up the data in order to record the perspectives and experiences of the participants in this study by documenting their voices, visions, and wisdom in a detailed exploration into the feelings about and use of storytelling in their teaching practices. The instructional strategies reported through this qualitative inquiry support a socio-cognitive interactive model of literacy and demonstrate its importance in learning content in an elementary school environment. The data were analyzed continually through a search for emerging patterns and through constant comparison analysis. The researcher found that the teachers used stories and illustrations in an impromptu manner and that storytelling served both cognitive and affective purposes. Cognitively, storytelling was employed to form connections to students’ prior knowledge and new knowledge being introduced. Storytelling was used as a mnemonic device to help students transfer storied information to new situations. Affectively, storytelling served to engage students in an enlightening and entertaining manner. Students responded to the use of stories through actively participating in classroom discussions and sharing stories of their own. Storytelling assists these teachers in their critical roles as negotiators and facilitators of meaning construction in the text and social context of the classroom.

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