Sharing Canadian Culture. Creating Digital Stories.

The Edutopia article “The Neuroscience of Narrative and Memory,” by Judy Willis, offers some insights into the value of storytelling in classroom instruction. Willis is an author, neurologist and educator, who has presented on video games and education at TedX.

Her books include: “Teaching the Brain to Read: Strategies for Improving Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension,” and “Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher.”

The gist of the article is that “delivering content—in any class—through a story has positive effects on your students’ information retention.” .

Neuroscience explains that storytelling helps with interpreting the world and imprinting new information in memory.

As stories from childhood are linked to positive emotional experiences, they provide an insight into the patterning system by which memories are stored. Our brains seek and store memories based on patterns (repeated relationships between ideas). This system facilitates our interpreting the world—and all the new information we find throughout each day—based on prior experiences.

The four-step structure of narrative—beginning (Once upon a time…), problem, resolution, and ending (…and they all lived happily ever after)—forms a mental map onto which new information can be laid.

This may seem obvious but making content interesting makes it more engaging. Perhaps the key is the story leading to positive emotional associations that “hook” information into memory.

Weaving learning into a story makes learning more interesting, activates the brain’s positive emotional state, and hooks the information into a strong memory template. The memory then becomes more durable as the learning follows the narrative pattern through sequences connected to a theme, time flow, or actions directed toward solving a problem or reaching a known goal.

Fascinating stuff. Do you have any experience with this? Feel free to comment.

Read the original article:

The Neuroscience of Narrative and Memory:

Related articles / research:

Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences:

Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React: The Neuroscience of Narrative: