Learning Strategy: Storytelling


Storytelling offers the narrator a powerful process through which the storyteller crafts a meaningful narrative about his/her life. Through sharing one's story, the narrative reveals how a sense of purpose has unfolded in their life through critical experiences and key relationships.

When the story being told is particularly meaningful to the audience, the speaker can serve as role model who encourages and inspires the audience to reflect on their own experience. Another powerful outcome of storytelling is that it can build community among those present. When the storyteller is a student, it provides the storyteller with a deeper sense of meaning and it also invites those present to construct a deeper sense of meaning in their own lives.

Learning strategies this strategy can be confused with

  • Guest Speaker: Often a recognized expert in their area and may use storytelling to better illustrate their message, but storytelling is not the primary focus.
  • Reflection: Although storytelling provides opportunity for reflection, formal reflection may not be part of the process.

Examples at USD

  1. Witness talks on retreats
  2. Short personal testimonies in a variety of contexts
  3. Appropriate self-disclosure as part of a mentoring process or counseling session
  4. Participants in restorative justice conferences
  5. Alumni sharing stories about their experiences and connecting it to values (what was discovered as valuable in the USD experience, once a graduate)
  6. Theology on Tap
  7. Videos of students sharing their internship experience (how they perceive it connecting with their professionals goals)
  8. New student programs (e.g., Belonging at USD, Be Well at USD)
  9. RA Training (e.g., Behind Closed Doors)



  • University Ministry's resources for creating Search Retreat talks


  • Many good examples are TedTalks which can provide instruction on storytelling
  • Khan Academy--there is a course on the art of storytelling

Rev. 8/11/17

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