Dialogical narrative approach to enhance critical thinking and student engagement during lecturebased classes

Benjamin Kambiz Ghiam, Stephen Loftus, Suzan Kamel-ElSayed


Introduction: The dialogical narrative (DN) approach is an interactive teaching method designed and applied to the teaching of physiology to medical students. It uses an interactive conversational style within a narrative design. This study sought to answer the question “How do medical students perceive the effectiveness of the DN approach in promoting participation, engaged learning and critical thinking?” 

Methods: Physiological subject matter was presented to a class of second-year medical students in a manner that combined storytelling and a question–answer conversational style. Soon after, two focus group sessions, each with seven participants, were conducted to determine the students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the approach. Recordings from focus group sessions were transcribed and subjected to qualitative thematic analysis, informed by narrative inquiry and dialogism. 

Results: Analysis revealed that students felt the DN approach: encouraged critical thinking, was more engaging and conducive to active participation than traditional didactic lectures and provided a narrative flow and logical progression of material. The approach challenged students who were not used to public speaking and encouraged students to be well prepared. The teacher needed to upskill in managing the approach and asking the right questions. 

Conclusions: The students were divided between those who feel comfortable with active, open dialogue in the class and those who do not, but most believed the interactions fostered skills that are important. Most students preferred the DN approach over traditional lectures. The great strength of the DN approach is the manner in which it integrates practical teaching measures within a sound theoretical framework.


physiology; dialogism; didactic lecture; narrative; medical education; critical thinking; dialogical narrative

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v20i3.344


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