instructional design, instructional techniques, storytelling, innovation, qualitative research


Good instructional storytelling engages students’ attention and cognitive abilities to the end of more effective learning, and instructional researchers have discussed whether the principles of storytelling could lead to the same or similar results if applied to educational situations beyond only telling traditional stories. But despite this potential, the principles of storytelling are seemingly underutilized by today’s instructional designers. This study investigates what instructional designers might learn from another design field that is more experienced in the art of storytelling, specifically that of film production. Eight filmmakers who have successfully produced films that motivate, inspire, and educate were interviewed to discover what they know about the topic of creating effective instructional stories. The results of these interviews, which will help instructional designers learn and apply storytelling principles, are analyzed to help further illustrate an inventive approach for the creation of instructional environments.

Original Publication Citation

McDonald, J. K. (2009). Imaginative instruction: What master storytellers can teach instructional designers. Educational Media International, 46(2), 111-122.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Taylor & Francis




David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology