You are here:

Negotiations and challenges in creating a digital story: The experience of graduate students

, University of Houston, United States

University of Houston . Awarded


Digital Storytelling has been popular in various educational contexts as a powerful tool for cognitive and literacy development in the digital age. The creation of a digital story is a complex process in which the creator utilizes different skills and literacies in order to produce a meaningful multimedia text. Learning occurs at different levels and dimensions when the digital story creator draws upon social cultural knowledge, relates life experiences, and interacts with peers and instructors to work through this multi-staged project. Thus, creating a digital story is also a process of negotiation. While deciding on the theme, the images, the language and other elements of the digital story, the creator needs to negotiate internal conflicts, relations with the social world and the different modes used to tell the story.

Although the large majority of the scholarship on Digital Storytelling features Digital Storytelling as a deep reflective learning device, an effective means of self-representation and an original media genre, few studies have been dedicated to investigating the challenging aspects in creating a digital story (see Kulla-Abbott & Polman, 2008; Nelson & Hull, 2008). This dissertation research study is a narrative inquiry into the experience of creating a digital story with the concepts of negotiation and challenge at the center. As the digital story creator negotiates to make the choices which are going to be presented in the digital story, they may have to encounter challenges associated with these choices.

This dissertation research attempts to reconstruct the experience of creating a digital story at various levels. The first level is the analysis of the internal structure of the digital story as a multimodal text in order to learn how each narrative line (voice-over, imagery, and music) works, and how the lines work together to create the effects of the story. The second level is the examination of the experience of negotiating for the choices presented in the story and coping with related challenges during the creative process. The third level is the researcher's study of the themes and patterns of negotiations and challenges emerging from the experience of creating a digital story. This is also the reflection upon personal experience in an endeavor to search for the meaning of that experience in more general and profound dimensions. Finally, conclusions from the examination of the experience raise useful implications and propositions for teaching and evaluation when Digital Storytelling is incorporated in the curriculum.

Methodologically, the inquiry for this dissertation closely followed three graduate students in their digital story projects in the setting of two linked courses, one focusing on hands-on multimedia technology and the other centering on the methodology of using popular culture in the classroom. The data collected consist of field notes of class observation, teaching materials on Moodle—the learning management system used for the linked courses, participants' postings on the Moodle discussion forum, personal interviews, and the actual digital stories created by the participants. Among the primary concepts in the theoretical framework of this dissertation are the functions of narrative from sociocultural, constructivist, and narrative theory perspectives; Digital Storytelling as a means for self-representation and identity formation; narrative inquiry; the narrative version of knowledge; and knowledge community.


Nguyen, A.T. Negotiations and challenges in creating a digital story: The experience of graduate students. Ph.D. thesis, University of Houston. Retrieved May 15, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or


Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact