Emma Browning

Thesis title:

How does the use of narrative nonfiction in the Key Stage 2 history classroom affect learning, specifically in comparison to the use of nonfiction?


Narrative is thought to be the ‘fundamental instrument of human thought’ (Turner, 1996:4), yet within the Key Stage 2 classroom, narrative is usually confined to the teaching of specific English skills (Duke, 2000; Kiris et al., 2011). If narrative is so fundamental to human cognition and thought, perhaps it should be utilised more widely across the primary curriculum to teach a range of subjects such as history. However, there are concerns that using narratives in the history classroom might reduce history to myth (Barthes, 1993), as narratives are not always factual. To counteract these concerns, narrative nonfiction is proposed as a potential solution. Emma’s research aims to compare the impact of nonfiction and narrative nonfiction on history learning in the Key Stage 2 classroom. Two phases of research will be conducted to do so. Firstly, a survey will be emailed to Year 5 and 6 teachers in approximately 16,500 schools across England, exploring teachers’ understandings of narrative nonfiction as a genre and how teachers categorise text extracts. The second phase of research will involve a comparative experiment with an intervention, bringing narrative nonfiction into a classroom environment. It will involve a participant sample of four Year 5 history classes, with two classes from two different primary schools, producing a sample of approximately 100 children.

First supervisor:

Jill Hohenstein


6 – Education, Mind & Society