EXPERIENTIAL NARRATIVE (STORYTELLING) IN A TECHNOLOGY-MEDIATED POLICE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
, W. Muirhead2
1Royal Roads University (CANADA)
2University of Ontario Institute of Technology (CANADA)
This research explored the efficacy and desirability of experiential narrative, also known as storytelling, as a pedagogy within a police technology-mediated learning environment (TMLE). The exploration sought the viewpoint and preferences of learners within this environment, through the use of a semi-structured interview research methodology and subsequent to a demonstration of the pedagogy presented through an e-learning course.
The research also attempted to gain some measure of the effectiveness of storytelling in its engagement of the learner, and the retention of the content delivered. The study attempted to determine whether this pedagogy may have use in assisting new officers acclimatize themselves within the policing culture. Consequently, the study was restricted to front-line police officers in their early years of training and development (one to three years service). The purpose of this was to examine a group that is still early in its development and cultural acclimatization phase, in the hopes of determining what appeals to this group in terms of e-learning instructional strategy. The desired attempt was to find out what this specific group prefers, and how this preference effects their knowledge acquisition.
The following central research questions were addressed:
1. What effect does storytelling delivered through a technology-mediated learning environment have on the skills, knowledge and attitude (SKA) acquisition of new front-line police officers?
2. What are the perceptions of new front-line police officers concerning the effectiveness of storytelling in the on-line environment?
3. To what use do new front-line police officers employ technology-mediated oral traditions in their positions?
Eleven police officers were interviewed and their responses tape-recorded. Constructivist grounded theory methods informed the data analysis, findings and discussion processes, within an interpretivist paradigm.
Six major interconnected themes emerged from the analysis. These themes are the topics of: the environment of the participants, connections to stories and tellers, the affects on learning, vicarious experiential learning, the recall of story content and the usages of storytelling in policing. In the analysis of these findings, an hypothesis emerged which consisted of two key components:
1. Policing as learning through stories (policing as learning)
2. Police training as learning through stories (story-based training).
These components yielded the hypothesis that a mechanism exists in the use of stories by police during training and in their field duties. A theory also emerged that police use the stories in two distinct ways:
1. Often police will replicate the actions detailed in the heard stories to produce desired results within the context they find themselves during performance of their job tasks.
2. Stories are used as a reference point to determine what has occurred when attempting to evaluate the truth of the stories police hear in the field.
The findings are significant for police training. It is recommended that more widespread use be made of storytelling as a training methodology. Participants reported finding high value in the use of stories from both a practical perspective and from the engagement of the learner perspective. Stories were retained by the officers, and served to expedite memory recall.