Eglinton, K. Ali, Gubrium, A. and Wexler, L. “Digital Storytelling as Arts-Inspired Inquiry for Engaging, Understanding, and Supporting Indigenous Youth.” International Journal of Education & the Arts, V. 18 No. 5 (2017): 1-28.


The abstract for this article, as well as the complete article, is available on the International Journal of Education & the Arts website.

Supports for the Findings:

This study examines digital storytelling as a means of arts-based inquiry. It evolved from a funded initiative called Project Life with an original purpose of engaging Alaskan Native youth and adults (10-24 years old) to use digital storytelling to share their lives with the larger community. Following this program, a pilot study analyzed more than 250 of these digital stories to identify Inupiat youth’s sense of selfhood, concerns, struggles and resources ― with an ultimate goal of sparking intergenerational dialogue. Tribal partners were consulted along with collaborating community members. Analytic work was guided by a moderate social constructionist framework. Researchers found three main themes in these stories: identity, aesthetic engagement and voice, which highlight digital storytelling as an effective arts-inspired approach to inquiry.

Implications of the Findings:

The study describes digital storytelling as an engaging tool that can be used in arts education and research and that may give voice to stories that may otherwise go untold. The authors suggest the use of digital storytelling as a form of transformative pedagogy elucidating meanings, identities and values of a particular population. These findings may inspire arts educators and researchers to use similar storytelling methods to highlight concerns of people and populations who are underrepresented because of systemic, inequitable practices and systems.

Limitations of the Findings:

This study was conducted with a specific population of Alaskan Native youth and found common themes in their digital stories that could connect them with their larger community. The secondary discussion of this study was more on the use of digital storytelling as a tool rather than the replicability of specific findings. The particular processes used to gather and construct the digital stories were not detailed; however, the authors cited several studies that also used digital storytelling. This may indicate that the particular methods followed to gather these personal narratives are not as important in terms of replicability as the identification of themes relative to the population concerned in such an ethnographic inquiry.


*This article is part of an expedited review cycle that AEP conducted in the spring of 2021. Members of the ArtsEdSearch Review Panel provided the content (edited by AEP staff) in this summary.