Type of Document Dissertation Author Slabon, Wayne A. URN etd-11022009-223731 Title Learning by Restorying: A Naturalistic Case Study of an Instructional Strategy in a Masterís Level Conflict Management Course Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Vanessa Dennen Committee Chair Allan Jeong Committee Member Robert Reiser Committee Member John Mayo University Representative Keywords
- Case Study
- Instructional Strategy
- Conflict Management
Date of Defense 2009-10-02 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe purpose of this naturalistic case study was to investigate how an instructional strategy based on restorying promoted learning and transfer for masterís level students in two sections of a conflict management course in higher education. The notion of restorying as employed in this study referred to a learnerís rewriting or retelling of a personal, domain-relevant story based on the application of concepts, principles, strategies and techniques covered during a unit or course of instruction. Through a five-week series of content application assignments and a final integration paper, learners engaged in the restorying of a personal workplace conflict story which was selected from their own, professionally relevant experience base.
An interpretive, phenomenological approach was employed to discern the essence of the restorying experience with the individual as the unit of analysis. This approach enabled exploration of different learnersí experiences. Study participant data was obtained from course documents, student assignments, student surveys, class observations, eleven interviews and two focus groups. While the naturalistic methods coupled with the small sample size and noted threats preclude generalization of the study findings, this study may plausibly inform practice for others. The credibility, dependability, applicability, and confirmability of the data analysis and study findings were supported through rich and thick descriptions, theoretical and methodological explanations, persistent observation, triangulation of diverse data sources and multiple collection methods, member checking of transcripts, and an audit trail.
To investigate learning performance, group scoring averages for the five-week series of weekly restorying assignments and final integration paper were analyzed. The group scoring averages for the weekly restorying assignments which learners initially submitted prior to class indicated achievement of stated outcomes around an 80% mastery level. With the added learning benefits from class instruction, collaborative discussion and feedback, group scoring averages on the final integration paper indicated achievement of stated outcomes around a 95% mastery level. Instructor-facilitated class discussion involving group analysis of new content application via peer and instructor story sharing was the predominant classroom strategy with course peer stories the most frequently cited source for promoting learner understanding.
To investigate transfer performance, two versions of a transfer case assignment were created. One version incorporated lesser elaboration and the other greater elaboration in the case question prompts; i.e., in the level of scaffolding provided in question prompts to elicit learner thoughts and articulate explanations. Different versions were disseminated to different course sections. Group scoring averages indicated comparable achievement around an 85% or better mastery level with no significant difference in performance.
These preliminary findings provide case specific evidence that the restorying method can effectively serve as a central instructional strategy for promoting learning and transfer when supporting instructional components are incorporated to maximize effectiveness. While the restorying method exhibited a number of underlying principles in common with recognized approaches from the instructional design literature--e.g., anchoring all learning tasks to a real world, complex problem that required ongoing exploration from multiple perspectives--it is clearly distinct from other approaches. The story that serves as the anchor for learning in the restorying approach is selected, written and rewritten by the learners from within their own personal experience base. Moreover, the restorying method as employed in this case emphasized new content analysis through story application and story sharing by course participants to promote domain understanding in ways that are clearly distinct from other story-based approaches.
Learning by restorying broadens current understanding of how stories can be strategically employed to serve important cognitive and motivational functions in support of learning processes. The restorying approach invites us to carefully consider whose stories are being told, when are stories being told, for what purposes are stories being employed, what effects on storytellers and story listeners arise from the sharing of stories, and how might stories be employed, reflected upon, revised and redeployed to promote learning and achievement of desired outcomes. The method appears to be most suited for learning contexts that involve real world problem solving with a series of complex tasks that can be analyzed from multiple perspectives; where the learners have a sufficiently rich personal experience base with the type of problem to select a suitably robust story for analysis; where the learners possess or can be scaffolded to exhibit the requisite skills to carry out that analysis; where the class size will allow sufficient time for the weekly exchange and discussion of participant stories; and where the instructor possesses effective facilitation skills coupled with theoretical and practical knowledge of the domain.
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