Storytelling for grown-ups (in an academic setting)

Open bookLast month, September 12th, saw an interesting one-day symposium taking place at CCI Eldon building titled ‘Storytelling in Learning Development’. It was organised by Learning Developers/ Academic Skills Tutors from two faculties as a regional symposium of their professional body ( and showcased speakers from a number of University of Portsmouth departments.

Copy of Berthold Brecht's illustrated manuscriptsStories were interpreted from a multitude of angles and in different contexts: gaming, performing, library collections (of course!), maths, law, history – for different purposes: assessment, reflection, support, flow of narrative, experiencing history, encouraging diverse ways of reading, improving academic English, being spooked. Yes, even the latter with a presentation on ‘Portsmyth – Supernatural Storytelling and the Re-reading of Local Space’ which kept people on their toes after lunch. Participants had a lot of fun in the workshops and were engaged by taking part in hands-on sessions, acting out stories, analysing best ways of teaching and experiencing tactile objects (I actually touched a book from the 17th century!), as well as getting creative with sticking post-its on a wall.

Post-it notes stuck on a whiteboard around the theme: "Why use storytelling"

Two show & tell sessions (‘Not Seeing the Wood for Trees’ being one) and a world café style summary rounded up the eventful day.  There were good networking opportunities, plenty of food and coffee to help the flow, exchanges of ideas, boards written on and posters created. An excellent day to think about why we need stories for our own development.

Here is what the participants came up with on one question.  The strongest takeaway idea for us Learning Developers was to focus our energy on supporting students as a next step. We are planning an event in the library for November (it is its final stages of preparation) titled ‘Bringing Research to Life’. Watch this space!

This event will be a collaboration between Learning Developers and Librarians and will be open to undergraduate students from all faculties interested in honing their research skills. I’m sure there will be cake… and some good stories in context to help students make sense of their learning, open their minds to new ideas and boost their confidence. What’s not to like?

To all students – please help us make this event in November a success!

Anne is an Academic Skills tutor in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries.

One comment on “Storytelling for grown-ups (in an academic setting)
  1. It was a truly enjoyable event which had plenty of learning points too. We’re hoping to repurpose our workshop using library special collections as a community event in the future.

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