Authentic arts-based learning in teacher education: a musical theatre experience
Ogden, H., DeLuca, C., & Searle, M. (2010). Authentic arts-based learning in teacher education: a musical theatre experience. Teaching Education, 21(4), 367-383.
Researchers in this paper voice a concern over the disconnect that pre-service teachers face between educational theory and practice and present a model for integrating authentic learning and arts-based learning as a means of enhancing pre-service programs. In the context of a musical theater production, researchers analyze the process of engaging teacher candidates in an authentic arts-based learning experience. They collected data from 30 participating teacher candidates (preparing to teach grades K-12) through observations of rehearsals, a post-production questionnaire, and focus group interviews. These data indicate that participation created a sense of community and belonging, as well as developed skills necessary to carry forward art-based learning activities into their teaching careers.
Researchers concluded that the authentic arts-based learning experience did address the problem of disengagement and the disconnect between theory and practice facing pre-service teacher candidates. Many of the participants felt they would infuse arts-based learning into their classrooms to create safe spaces for students to take risks and be themselves.
In addition, researchers identified five key findings:
- Authenticity: Many participants felt while they faced many challenges in the theatrical production (balancing full-time school, life, and a rigorous six-week rehearsal schedule), the challenges were worth the connections they made to an outside audience of their work. Creating an artistic work that would be shared with an audience made the experience real, authentic, and worthwhile.
- Autonomy: Participants felt a great level of autonomy throughout the production. They could give input on creative direction, there were self-directed scenes, and cast members were all part of production committees.
- Relationships: Through frequent rehearsals, the participants developed closer relationships with each other that were felt not only in the music production, but beyond into the their broader educational context. The inclusive, non-competitive nature of the musical theater created a sense of belonging and community as well as a sense of equality where all members felt valued.
- Reflection: Reflecting on the experience, participants felt it positively affected both their professional and personal lives. Professionally, the experience was very hands-on and they learned techniques that they could take to their classrooms. Personally, they developed a deeper appreciation for the arts and wanted to be involved with future stage productions.
- Vitality: Participants noted gains in energy, enthusiasm, and joy as a result of their participation.