Teaching by Story – engaging students in the learning environment

Authors: Rutherford

Conference: 10th Annual International Conference on Communication & Mass Media

Dates: 14-17 May 2012


The way in which we ‘mentally picture’ (IMAGinE) what something ‘is’ determines what it is ‘for’ (Boulding, 1956), and this, in turn, shapes our assumptions and decisions in our efforts to achieve it. As a consequence of the way in which the purpose of higher education is defined (and its value measured) by pundits, politicians (and even by some university administrators), many students have been ‘taught’ to IMAGinE it as ‘a service to be provided’ – something ‘done to’ students to improve their job prospects within their chosen careers. Implicit within this conception of HE is the assumption that it demands the same (minimal) level of engagement by its ‘customers’ as any other. As a result, the ‘picture’ of both the purpose of higher education and who is responsible for providing it with which many students now arrive at university makes it both less likely that they will develop a proactive and self-directed approach towards learning and reduces the prospect that they will realise its benefits.

To counter the influence of this ‘mental picture’ of higher education and engage our students ‘meaning-fully’ in the learning environment, we must be able to offer them a different ‘picture’ of education – and one that gives them a reason to commit to it. I will suggest that we can do so by helping students to understand how the core professional skills are relevant to their lives.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Rutherford