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The Key Practice, Building and Sharing Stories and Social Understandings: The Intrinsic Value of Narrative ELA

Deane, Paul; Somasundaran, Swapna; Lawless, Rene; Persky, Hilary R.; Appel, Colleen
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
English Language Arts (ELA), Theory of Mind, Story Telling, Narration (Rhetoric), Narrative, Writing, Reading, Event Structure, Social Development, Cognitive Development, Emotional States, Comprehension, Interpretation, Reflection (Philosophy), Inference, Character Traits, Fictional Characters, Perspective-Taking, Themes, Vocabulary, Stories, Identification


One of the major goals of the English Language Arts is to teach students to read, understand, and write narratives. This report examines the ways in which the skills that support narrative develop during the school years, outlines a model of narrative as a “key practice” in which the ability to model social situations supports narrative understanding, and feeds into the ability to use stories to reflect about stories and the classes of social situations they represent. Narrative is important precisely because it helps people develop their understanding of the social world and reason about their place in it. Assessments of narrative reading and writing need to take this broader construct into account.

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