Lingnan University study finds digital storytelling enhances positive attitudes and values of primary students

17 Dec 2023

A primary school in Hong Kong takes part in Lingnan University’s study on "Enhancing positive values among primary students".

A primary school in Hong Kong takes part in Lingnan University’s study on "Enhancing positive values among primary students".

The School of Graduate Studies of Lingnan University has initiated a research project to address growing concerns regarding the emotional well-being of Hong Kong students and the academic stress they have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic. The project focuses on "Enhancing positive values among primary students through digital storytelling." Research findings indicate that incorporating digital storytelling in primary schools’ English language classes helps inculcate positive values among students. It is found that this pedagogical approach not only improves students’ engagement in class, but also significantly contributes to their holistic development, and emotional and mental well-being, and cultivates positive values in young learners.


Digital storytelling (DST) is a technique of telling stories through digital media such as video, music, and images. It is an effective way to convey information in an engaging and specific manner, and it also helps in developing creative thinking and communication skills. Additionally, DST involves sharing personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions through various digital media formats.


The School of Graduate Studies at Lingnan University recently conducted a research project in collaboration with the AD & FD POHL Mrs Cheng Yam On School. The project aimed to implement DST in English classes for 200 primary 3 and primary 4 students from September to October this year. The research team worked with eight teachers to integrate DST into classes over six weeks. Students were evaluated based on their ability to express positive values such as love before and after the project. The team also conducted in-depth interviews with schoolteachers and students to gain a better understanding of students’ learning experiences with DST and generated case studies.


According to the results, the use of DST in teaching the English language can engage students better, and provide more enjoyment as compared to traditional storytelling. To be more specific, DST can not only release teachers from telling the stories, but also engage students with digital media, and develop creative thinking and communication skills through pre-designed scaffolding skills and activities. This engagement stimulates students, who then participate more and learn better.


Using DST in English classes can result in many benefits for students. For example, DST can help students to participate more actively in lessons while listening and enjoying them. Additionally, the research found that DST can encourage interaction between teachers and students, as well as among the students themselves. As a result, the use of DST may improve students' overall learning experience significantly. In the survey, 68% of the students agreed that they gained a deeper understanding of love from the intervention (refer to Figure 1).


Prof Lucy Yu Baohua, an Associate Professor at the School of Graduate Studies, led a project adopting a student-centred approach to teaching and learning, where teachers act as facilitators of lessons rather than just relaying information as in traditional storytelling. The project involved various in-class and homework activities such as love tree and poster design, which enable students to showcase positive values like love (Figure 2). These classroom interventions have shown that this approach has a holistic effect, enriching students' social and emotional, cognitive, and literacy skills, as well as life satisfaction, which in turn increases their resilience as they grow up.


Prof Yu emphasised the increased need for teachers in Hong Kong to develop innovative teaching and learning methods due to mental well-being concerns about Hong Kong students since the COVID-19 pandemic. In future, it is hoped that teaching students to create and share their own digital stories may improve their reflective learning and collaborative skills as well as exploring meaningful themes. This evidence-based approach demonstrates the potential of DST to provide multi-dimensional developmental benefits in primary, secondary, and even higher education by fostering both learning abilities and positive mindsets from an early age. It is especially important to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few years, as students may have developed potential physical and mental health issues associated with the lack of interpersonal contact.


Schools that took part in the study have noted that the project has been useful in nurturing well-rounded and compassionate young minds, and also that adopting DST in language classes has helped them to complement their educational goal of instilling moral character alongside academic achievement. The team from Lingnan University plans to expand the scope of their research to regions outside Hong Kong. The paramount importance of integrating value education into other subjects such as Chinese, English and General Studies in order to empower young minds and improve their subjective well-being is advocated.