Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Examination of the Influence of Theater Arts Education on the Non-cognitive Skills and Abilities of Community College Students: A Qualitative Study of Human Development
by O'neill, Thomas, Ed.D., National American University, 2019, 210; 13881802
Abstract (Summary)

Although theater arts curricula have been established in most institutions of higher learning in the United States throughout the 20th century, little scholarship has been devoted to exploring the actual value of a theater arts pedagogy and its influence on students. The field of theater arts education merits attention not only because of the important knowledge that it cultivates in students, but also because our theatrical legacy is a treasured, cultural aspect of our human heritage and must be taken seriously as a vehicle for human progress. The data of this study have demonstrated the potential for fostering personal growth, social development, and academic achievement through the influence of theater arts on the non-cognitive skills and abilities of community college students. Often referred to as a “soft skills” or affective behavior, the 12 non-cognitive skills examined in this study were found to be essential human attributes and abilities on which we depend in all arenas of society throughout a lifetime. The development of theatrical skills is often overlooked, not necessarily because these skills are undervalued, but because they are not fully understood by academia (Kindelan, 2012). Through this study, the researcher proposed to increase understanding regarding the influence of theater arts studies on the non-cognitive skills and abilities of community college students who participate in theater courses and in theater performance and in theater production activities. The researcher used three theories to form the conceptual framework and the basis for this study: non-cognitive (skills and abilities) theory (Heckman, Stixrud, and Urzua, 2006); play theory (Boyd, 1945; Simon, 1971; Huizinga, 1938) and student involvement theory (Astin, 1984). Grounded theory methodology was used to analyze the collected data gathered through interviews concerning the experiences of 23 theater arts students. The data were distilled to form a new theory based on common themes inherent in the words of the students. Some of these themes addressed ways that educators can use to empower students on their personal education paths seeking to strengthen their critical and creative thinking, academic, organization and leadership skills, social and emotional growth, self-esteem, empathy, tolerance, self-motivation, and grit. Recommendations are made for scaling theater arts studies across the academic curriculum and a toolbox is presented with theater techniques to be used in each classroom. A proposition is put forth as to how these non-cognitive skills and abilities may be enhanced and developed to serve as valued life-skills over a lifespan to help in the development of the “whole person” (NEA, 2011, p.7).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mullaney, William, Mathis, Margaretta
Commitee: Krikun, Andrew
School: National American University
Department: Community College Leadership Program
School Location: United States -- South Dakota
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theater, Educational psychology, Performing Arts, Community college education
Keywords: Acting, Improvisation, Non-cognitive, Performing arts, Theater arts, Transformation
Publication Number: 13881802
ISBN: 9781085783781
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