The Hero’s Journey in Higher Education: A Twelve Stage Narrative Approach to the Design of Active, Student-Centred University Modules

Robert Farmer


This paper outlines and makes the case for a new, twelve stage narrative approach to the design of university modules. The twelve stages in the narrative approach to module design mirror the twelve stages which comprise the hero’s journey in myth and legend, as discussed in the work of Campbell (1993) and Vogler (1985). The purpose of designing a university module to mirror the stages of the hero’s journey is twofold. Firstly, it is proposed that the use of a narratively-focused design will lead to a greater sense of satisfaction on the part of those taking the module, because the narrative approach considers, for example, the importance of beginnings and endings, as well as the emotional journey of the participants. Secondly, the narrative approach is constructed to create module designs which are active and student-centred, thus a very strong emphasis is placed on what the students will be doing in each of the stages. Throughout the paper each of the twelve stages is explained, and an example of what the teacher and students might do in each of the stages is given. This narrative approach to module design has been constructed primarily for teachers who would like to design their modules to be more active and student centred, but who are unsure how to go about this and would like a supportive framework within which the module can be designed.

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