Narrativity in instructional communication

Eero Ropo, Sari Yrjänäinen

Tutkimustuotos: LukuScientificvertaisarvioitu


Narrativity and narratives are mostly neglected by education professionals. Reasons are myriad. In general education, the current climate of promoting the transparency of educational results and learning outcomes has, in many countries, led to adoption of high‐stakes testing and other accountability measures to evaluate student performance. The pressures to show the results of basic education to the general public or taxpayers has led to instructional practices that aim at improving the performance‐based outcomes in different tests (e.g., Ravitch, 2010; Sahlberg, 2011).Although the aim is to promote student learning, the side effects have often been ignored. In high‐stakes testing, performance is more often defined as recall of memorized facts than in terms of overall understanding or meanings that specific topics may induce for the student. In professional education, narratives are often regarded as layman knowledge which is not based on facts but only on beliefs or opinions. The image of public education has suffered, and this image is reflected also in teacher education. If teachers' work is understood to be based only on skills or simple competencies, there is no place for more complex concepts, such as narrativity (e.g., Sayer, 2006; Schratz, 2014). This lack of understanding of the benefits of narrativity in professional education is widespread (Kelly & Zak, 1999).In everyday life, narratives are present everywhere, as Barthes and Duisit (1975, p. 237) remind us. They are also present in education, in schools and institutions, curriculum and instruction, and sessions and lessons. This is how we position this chapter and ourselves as authors. Narratives are here and there, because human life and understanding is narrative. This is how we think, memorize, and express our thinking with language, pictures, and the whole body.In educational research and teaching practice, narrativity is a newcomer. Although the practice has applied narratives and narrativity, theorizing about it is more recent than in many other sciences such as social sciences and culture studies. In those domains, the aim concerning narrativity may be expressed as understanding how people adopt and assume identity narratives and how they perceive the reality (Blume, Leitgeb, & Rössner, 2015). As Blume et al. (2015) emphasized, narratives are a fundamental “cultural practice” (p. 205). They are applied to make meaningful what we perceive, experience, and learn. Subsequently, it is not that important what people consider as “fictitious” or “real,” because they both are represented in different narratives that are all in a way fictitious, based both on facts and on beliefs, on individual, social, or cultural levels. Furthermore, narratives are applied to understand ourselves as individuals, members of communities, citizens, and participants, in situations and more abstract historical and cultural contexts. We assume this perspective to discuss, understand, and propose the roles of narratives and narrativity in education and instructional communication in particular.In the following, we will discuss narratives and narrativity in terms of five perspectives. First, we will discuss narratives and stories as concepts and their traditional role in instructional communication. The concept of a story has specific definitions compared to a narrative (Abbott, 2008), but in this case we mostly speak of them as synonyms.1 A second perspective relates to the nature of scientific knowledge and curricula as narratives. As our third perspective, we will take a more subject‐matter‐specific focus. We will discuss studies and results related to the use of narrativity in subject instruction in institutions and beyond. Fourth, we will discuss the narrative nature of learning and knowledge construction. This relates to the epistemological aspect of narrativity. Fifth, we will discuss the narrativity of the identity construction in instruction. This relates to the ontology of being in the world.
OtsikkoThe Handbook of Applied Communication Research
ToimittajatDan O'Hair, Mary John O'Hair, Erin B. Hester, Sarah Geegan
KustantajaJohn Wiley & Sons
ISBN (elektroninen)9781119399926
ISBN (painettu)9781119399858
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - 17 huhtik. 2020
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA3 Kirjan tai muun kokoomateoksen osa


  • Jufo-taso 2

!!ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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