Date of Award

1992

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

School

School of Education

First Advisor

George White

Second Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore

Abstract

Children with a low socio-economic background frequently fail to reach a high level of scholastic performance during their school years. The school milieu is a potential contributor to this scenario, as schools are generally designed for the attributes, needs, and skill levels that are characteristic of children from middle socio-economic backgrounds. As a result, these children require specific intervention to enable them to function within this 'alien' system. Drama offers unique and exciting possibilities in this field. Previous research endorses the use of improvisational strategies for this specific purpose; and the theories propounded by learning and language theorists and drama educationalists provide a strong theoretical framework. This study involved a sample of 56, 9 to 10 year old students with low socio-economic backgrounds. An 8 week improvisational drama programme (16 one-hour sessions) was administered to half the students, while the others served as a control. The design of this study was quasi experimental and followed a pre-test/training/post-test format. The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of this programme by both quantitative and qualitative methods. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to assess whether improvisational dramatic strategies would affect three skill areas of oral comprehension (translation, interpretation, and extrapolation) and also, children's attitudes both toward themselves and others. Analysis of the data showed significant improvements in the treatment group's skills of translation, interpretation and extrapolation. In addition, significant improvements were found in the treatment group's attitude towards others. The treatment group's classroom teacher also rated students' attitudes and school performance more highly at the conclusion of the programme. The findings of this study suggest that the integration of specific drama strategies into the educative process offers the following benefits: - enhancement of children's internal motivation, - active participation in learning, which has a positive effect on the development of cognition, - a specific targetting for the development of higher order cognitive skills, and, -the emphasis on interaction and creativity fosters positive self-concepts. It can, therefore, be concluded that a programme of improvisational dramatics has the potential to improve the oral comprehension skills and attitudes of children with low socio-economic backgrounds. Drama is one avenue that allows teachers to tap into potential that cannot be brought to fruition by the conventional methods of mainstream education.

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