Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

What students say about drama: Exploring the experiences of seventh graders in a Communications and Theatre classroom
by Hollander, Rebecca, Ph.D., New York University, 2009, 173; 3361975
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of eight seventh grade students and one teacher in a theatre class at an academically advanced school in the northeast. The students who volunteered for the study were observed during class participation, interviewed after the completion of the academic year, and shared some of their class writing samples with their teacher-researcher. The teacher-researcher kept a log of observations about the students' engagement with the Communications & Theatre class (CT).

The model for the interviews came from James Holstein and Jaber Gubrium's (1995) The Active Interview. This text calls for an open structure for the interview process and situates this dissertation in the qualitative research paradigm. Employing this format, there are no set questions; the interviews evolve from the ideas and themes brought up by the interviewees.

The school involved in this study is a 7th through 12 th grade school for academically gifted students. The CT course is designed to help acclimate the students to the school and their cohort of classmates. During the 7th grade academie year, the students enrolled in the CT course are engaged in dramatic activities units that include non-verbal and verbal communication, playwriting, play production, storytelling, melodrama, and process drama.

The study is framed by the literature in Gifted Education, Student Anxiety, Educational Theatre, and Teacher as Researcher. As arts-based educational qualitative inquiry, this study contributes to the burgeoning canon of research that interrogates the efficacy of theatre education within the traditional academic setting.

The teacher-researcher set out to find ways to enhance the curriculum to better suit the students' needs. The students shared their varying experiences within the theatre course, identifying several factors that both helped and challenged them. The issues examined in the study include, balancing stress in an academically challenging environment, fitting in as adolescents, taking risks through creative expression, and the level of support received from their teacher.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marin, Christina
School: New York University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theater, Secondary education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Drama, Educational theatre, Gifted, Gifted education, Middle schools, Seventh graders
Publication Number: 3361975
ISBN: 978-1-109-21005-7
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