Narrative inquiry: The impact of culture on learning

Yim Mei Esther CHAN

Research output: Contribution to conference › Papers


The learning environment of Hong Kong is unique due to her distinct historical and cultural backgrounds. Having been a British colony for over 150 years, Hong Kong Chinese learners are characterized by the intermingling of East and West cultures. At one level, they are expected to become active and reflective thinkers. At the other level, they are required to be obedient, conform to group norms and continue with assigned tasks. Although pedagogical innovations have been introduced in Hong Kong, teachers are still facing the dilemma of whether to adopt an interactive approach through the mother tongue education. This study first explores the relationships between culture and language. Then I discuss the use of storytelling as a means of knowledge construction. A case, explored through my interpretations of experience as a teacher educator, demonstrate how narrative inquiry is adopted as a pedagogical strategy for improving teacher education practices because it accommodates culture-specific values and learning styles that encourage students to learn from their own experiential knowledge. I argue that narrative inquiry with its constructivist stance, offers opportunities for learners to make meaning from their experiences of cultural tensions to facilitate reflection that gives rise to changes in learning. Narrative inquiry is likely a complement to the traditional approaches, promotes active engagement rather than the passive acceptance of knowledge from authority figures. An understanding of student teachers’ learning behaviour and the nature of knowledge has implications for the design of teacher education programs. In the Chinese communities such as Hong Kong, teachers or students who experienced more than one culture have potentially conflicting views on understanding the nature of knowledge.


Conference3rd Annual International Conference on East-West Reciprocal Learning in Education & Teacher Education Symposium: Research on Reciprocal Learning in Teacher Education and School Education in a Global View
Period14/04/16 → 19/04/16
Internet address


Chan, E. Y.-M. (2016, April). Narrative inquiry: The impact of culture on learning. Paper presented at The 3rd Annual International Conference on East-West Reciprocal Learning in Education & Teacher Education Symposium: Research on reciprocal learning in teacher education and school education in a global view, Chongqing, China.


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