This multi-article dissertation focuses on the role of narrative distance in instructional design. Narrative distance is defined œas the cognitive or emotional space afforded by indirect communication that invites listeners to make sense of content (Taeger, 2018, p. 6). Whereas fields associated with the arts have long used the indirect nature of story to create powerful experiences, instructional design has not examined how this aspect of narrative might be used in instruction. The first article in this dissertation explores the literature related to narrative distance and how designing for this phenomenon meets many of Wilson and Parrishs (2011) key indicators for transformative learning experiences. This article also suggests six principles for incorporating narrative distance into instructional design. The second article is a qualitative study of six experts from a variety of fields who design narrative distance into their work. Professionals in film, theatre, writing, art, and homiletics were interviewed three times over a period of several months using Fleming, Gaidys, and Robbs (2003) Gadamerian-based hermeneutic approach. The findings from this study discuss further principles and practices for integrating narrative distance into instructional design, especially as it relates to facilitating transformative learning experiences. These principles and practices are organized under four themes: cognitive space, emotional space, invite change, and meaningful content. Further research possibilities related to narrative distance are also briefly mentioned. The third article builds on the findings discussed in article two by offering examples of narrative distance in instruction. In addition, specific design steps are presented to help practitioners create narrative distance in a way that can lead to transformative learning experiences.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology

Date Submitted


Document Type





aesthetics, instructional design, design practice, narrative, narrative distance, transformative learning experiences