Research shows that stories are extremely powerful tools for learning. That’s because our brain has a natural ability to remember facts told in a story.
A research study by Rashmi Adaval and Robert S. Wyer, Jr. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign examined differences in information use and recall between bulleted lists of information and narrative information about a vacation destination. Participants in the study were given two travel brochures. One described a vacation in India and the other described a vacation in Thailand. The descriptions in one brochure were presented in narrative (descriptive) form and in the other brochure the descriptions were listed in bullets.
Participants were assigned randomly to read the brochures and then asked to recall and list as many of the places or situations described in the brochure as they could remember. The researchers found that recall was better when information was presented as narrative as opposed to a bulleted list. This result has been confirmed in other research.
The Guild’s new Big Answers report, Using Stories for Learning: Answers to Five Key Questions, describes this kind of research and its implications. In it, Karl Kapp says, “Given the link between learning and storytelling, it would seem that stories would be the most prevalent method for learning. However, people do not commonly consider storytelling in the same sentence as learning design. This is unfortunate, because storytelling and learning design have a lot in common.”