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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2007 Spring;68(1):30-5.

Once upon a time.... Storytelling to enhance teaching and learning.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS.



The impact of storytelling in the classroom was examined, as was what motivates individuals to engage in storytelling.


A storytelling methodology was introduced in an undergraduate nutrition course as an opportunity to enhance the teaching and learning environment. A 28-item, multi-part, self-administered survey was then distributed to the class (n=17).


Survey responses (n=15, 88% response) indicate that educators' and students' storytelling can positively influence the learning environment. This occurs through the creation of a greater focus on personalized information, glimpses of real-life experience, a connection with a topic as participants recognize similarities in their own personal experience and knowledge, and connections between different topics and through the emphasis on key concepts. Stories initiate useful conversations about unexplored struggles within practice, such as the emotional dimension(s) of an issue or what it means to be professional. Students are motivated to participate in storytelling through an external focus on others (i.e., helping others to learn) and an internal focus on self (i.e., seeking a connection with others to promote social dialogue). Several challenges related to the use of storytelling in the classroom emerged.


Storytelling develops ways of knowing and dialoguing about issues, which has the potential to influence how students will approach their professional practice.

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