The Utility of Storytelling Strategies in the Biology Classroom

 

Conveying scientific information with high intrinsic cognitive load to students is a challenge. Often, students do not have the existing schema to incorporate the information in a comprehensive manner. One method that has shown promise is storytelling. Storytelling has been successfully used to convey public health information to non-experts. Therefore, it was of interest to determine whether storytelling could be used in the classroom to present information with high intrinsic load to students in a meaningful manner. This study used a post-test only quasi-experimental study design to explore the utility of storytelling as an instructional strategy in anatomy and physiology classes at a community college. Students in the treatment group received instruction that used storytelling to present examples of application. Both control and experimental groups were assessed through the use of a proximal formative quiz, distal multiple-choice questions, and a novel critical thinking exercise administered after the instruction. Results suggest that storytelling was as effective as the instructional methods delivered to the control group. These findings suggest that storytelling may be used as a means to convey complex scientific information in the classroom.