Using storytelling to engage learners October 17, 2016 January 25, 2017 Gill Brabner

What makes storytelling a useful medium for work-place learning?  Here are 4 key points for trainers, tutors and facilitators:

  1.  Teaching information doesn’t automatically lead to learning (Zunshine 2013 citing Peskin and Astington 2004)

    But a story can hold our attention and help us to learn.  This is because a story makes us re-think our own stories (or experiences) and it is in this reflection that we learn (Schank 1990)

  2. Storytelling enables teachers, trainers and facilitators to establish the context and emotions (Norman 1993)

    Contextualising learning is very important so a story can help the learner to think about their own work role and we know that emotions aer very powerful – this is particularl important when the outcome is to achieve a behavioural change.

  3. Some of the best learning is in groups especially when there is  ‘direct experiential confrontation with practical problems’ (Rogers 1983)

    Group work can be face to face or in a digital environment but there is huge benefit from sharing learning

  4. A story can create a more meaningful experience than a factual account


Robyn Lewis plays Susie, the ineffective new manager in ‘Brenda’


On 26th April 2006 we delivered our first drama-based learning event to 35 HR directors, Heads of L&D, and business owners. It was a huge success.  Over the past 10 years our short dramas have been engaged with, talked about, shared, interpreted and judged (Dima & Coyne et al 2012) by everyone from senior clergy in the Church of England to street cleaners at a Local Authority, to high achievers in the financial sector to people with learning disabilities and their families.

If we can help you to tell a powerful learning story in your organisation, then lets talk.



Norman, D. A. (1993). Things that make us smart: defending human attributes in the age of the machine. Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.

Rogers C.R., (1983) Freedom to learn for the 80’s, C E Merrill

Schank R., (2010) Learning through Storytelling, Not Documents Accessed 16.04.16

Zunshine, L. (2013). There’s no substitute for fiction. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from