Storytelling as a Tool for Student Career Counselling

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    Students at Dutch universities of applied sciences are constantly expected to monitor their own personal and professional progress, using models from the field of management. These abstract models offer a top-down analysis of the learning process, mapping it with pre-constructed categories. In this chapter, we will present storytelling as an alternative bottom-up model for reflection. Narrative communication takes personal experience as its starting point, and thus allows students to tell their own stories rather than confine them to a one-size-fits-all model of personal growth and development. We will present a typology for categorising life writing, based on a genre classification developed by Russian semiologist Mikhail Bakhtin. The typology discerns four genres of life writing, according to how the protagonist can be placed vis-à-vis his or her surroundings, and whether the protagonist is presented as constant or changing over time. We call these four types of protagonists ‘heroes’, ‘growers’, ‘fighters’, and ‘picaroons’. We suggest that this model can function as a starting point for dialogue between student career counsellors and students, and can be used to analyse the stories students tell about their study progress. We will use the study narratives of 24 students from a large Dutch university of applied sciences who participated in our pilot study as examples.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNot Ever Absent
    Subtitle of host publicationStorytelling in Arts, Culture, and Identity Formation
    EditorsSjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar
    PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-84888-337-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Life writing
    • Stories of becoming
    • student career counselling
    • Mikhail M. Bakhtin
    • A.J. Greimas
    • Genres
    • Narrative learning environment
    • narrative counselling

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