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Faction or fiction: Using narrative pedagogy in school science education

Jane Gilbert, Rosemary Hipkins, and Garrick Cooper

Feminist and post-colonial research have highlighted learning issues for students who do not see a place for themselves within science, as this is traditionally represented in school science education.

The use of narrative pedagogy is seen by some as a means of overcoming some of these issues, but translating the intention to use narrative into actual classroom resources is less well understood.

This paper outlines some issues that arose during the writing of two sets of narrative materials to support science learning in New Zealand’s kura kaupapa Māori schools.

We found that narrative can easily become “faction” rather than “fiction” when the story’s primary purpose is to teach science. Such stories still belong predominantly to the teller and do not necessarily resolve the identity issues that narrative pedagogy seeks to address.

Building on our experiences to date, we suggest some instances in which paper-based narratives can be successful, but we also identify clear limitations to such resources. We then explore the proposal that digital story telling may be an effective means of addressing the unresolved issues.

Paper presented at the Redesigning Pedagogy: Research, Policy, Practice conference, Nanyang University Institute of Education, Singapore, 30 May-1 June 2005.

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Conference paper
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Garrick Cooper
Jane Gilbert