Thursday, September 3, 2015

How Telling Stories Helps Students Understand Business

Telling stories isn’t just for actors and orators but can be used to help students synthesize business curriculum to create higher levels of critical thinking. When people tell stories they need to focus on creativity, developing a narrative, connecting elements, and understanding the details to solve a bigger problem. Story telling allows the class to learn varying ways of using strategy in hypothetical situations.

A study of online courses found that narrating stories helps students describe theories and concepts that lead to higher levels of critical thinking (Mendez, Al Arkoubi & Yue, 2015). The process of thinking about scenarios and solutions and synthesizing course concepts into explaining a potential solution helps students understand and apply material. 

Our brains are designed to create stories so it should come to no surprise that the same thing occurs when we think through options to come to a strategic solution. We are in essence weighing possible scenarios and trying to determine the possible outcomes based upon the information we have. If we are missing information it is up to us to use our creativity to fill the gaps. 

It is so natural that when we sleep we unconsciously weave stories to master unresolved conflicts accumulated throughout the day. Dreams are simply stories that help put events in context and then store them away neatly in our heads. A business story integrates the various elements of theory, events, data, and people to solve a business problem. 

In the online classroom, it is possible to provide students with an open-ended business problem and let them use their imaginations, resources, books, creative thinking, and other cognitive resources to solve the problem. You can see which students can integrate various lessons and apply theories to hypothetical situations. Those students who are learning versus those who are not will become apparent.  

Mendez, M. Al Arkoubi, K. & Yue, C. (2015). Business leadership education: a virtual storytellers exercise. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 19 (1).

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