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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dramatization and its influence on student comprehension and engagement
by Valente, Erica, M.Ed., The William Paterson University of New Jersey, 2015, 60; 1592301
Abstract (Summary)

The popularity of visualization as a teaching technique, specifically in higher-grade levels, has decreased in the past decades. Multiple educational theorists such as Vygotsky (1978), Macready (2009), and Dewey (1916), stress the importance of authentic visualization and social interaction in order to increase reading comprehension. Cobb and Kallus (2011) concluded, “all readers must, at every moment in the reading process, construct coherent model of reading for the text they read” (p. 31). Visualization can occur on a personal level, with the student being able to picture the text in her mind, or at a public level, with students acting out texts and otherwise giving life to what is being read in class.

This qualitative study was designed to investigate the influence of dramatization within an 11th grade English classroom. Ultimately, the researcher observed that dramatization led to higher levels of motivation and engagement, as well as increased reading comprehension. Providing struggling readers with varied opportunities to learn is crucial in order to be an effective teacher. After review of existing literature, as well as multiple education theories, it is evident that if a student is removed from the text, she may not feel motivated to read it or give it her full attention. However, if the student is interested and involved, the level of motivation may increase. This engagement and participation that is encouraged by dramatization can ultimately lead to cognitive growth as well as a deeper understanding of the text.

The eight participants involved in the study were exposed to dramatization lessons during their regular school day along with their classmates. This eight-week study took place as the students in the junior English class were reading Othello. During this study, dramatization was used as a venue for participants to discuss characters and setting, as all students in the class were somehow involved during dramatization lessons. Moley, Bandre and George (2011) stressed the importance of authentic conversations and role-playing. Their study showed that active involvement could increase interest. Whether they were actively acting out a role, helping move desks in order to create a stage, or merely acting as spectators, all participants were actively engaged when dramatization occurred. Providing the participants with the opportunity to link text with bodily experiences correlates to studies performed by Glenberg (2011), who stressed that these bodily experiences will then lead to higher levels of comprehension and memory retention. Upon conclusion of the study, it was also evident to the researcher that dramatization was not only influencing engagement, but it was also positively impacting reading comprehension. These conclusions were drawn based on the data collected by the researcher. Throughout the eight-week research period, various data sources were used. Data sources included researcher (teacher) field notes, pre/post surveys, and participant work samples (tests/quizzes).

The success of dramatization could be due to the fact that instead of passively reading the text, dramatization requires active involvement from both actors and spectators, which may not only increase comprehension, but also provide a more memorable lesson for the students. Calfee’s (1984) study concluded that “structure is the key to comprehension – to comprehend a passage is to create a mental structure” (p. 82). Once this mental structure is created, students are more likely to retain the information. Utilizing dramatization could encourage students to take an active role in their learning, thus leading to greater levels of student engagement, and ultimately, increased reading comprehension.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mongillo, Geraldine
School: The William Paterson University of New Jersey
Department: Literacy
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: MAI 54/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Literature, Education
Keywords: Dramatization, Engagement, High school, Reading comprehension, Shakespeare, Visualization
Publication Number: 1592301
ISBN: 978-1-321-87048-0
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