Drama and possibility thinking - Taiwanese pupils' perspectives regarding creative pedagogy in drama

Lin, Y. (2010). Drama and possibility thinking - Taiwanese pupils' perspectives regarding creative pedagogy in drama. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 5(3), 108-119.

Abstract:

The researcher used a descriptive case study to consider how and what kind of creativity is developed through participation in drama-integrated learning, and how students respond to creative pedagogy (using drama-based and imaginative teaching approaches to enhance learning with the goal of cultivating creativity) in a Taiwanese context. Two sixth-grade classes from different schools and contexts participated in ten weeks of creative pedagogy-based drama lessons taught by a drama teacher. The researcher collected qualitative data on the students’ growth and experiences through response sheets, diaries, and structured group interviews, and compared the findings with feedback from the participating classroom and drama teachers. The findings reveal that overall, students noticed as a result of participation in the drama-based lessons, growth in imagination, independent and creative thinking, innovation, play, and risk-taking. Students felt that participating in drama developed their drama skills, as well as various social skills and capacities such as collaboration, communication, and empathy.

Key Findings:

Students reported that drama helped them use their imaginations, take risks, and collaborate and communicate better with others. They also believed that their drama skills, confidence, social skills, and ability to empathize increased through the lessons. Teachers noted that students were able to put their ideas into action, take on different perspectives, create their own work, and think independently during the drama lessons.

Students recognized play, innovation, freedom, and in-depth learning as qualities of creative pedagogy that fostered and encouraged the development of their creative thinking and imagination.

Over 80% of students reported liking the drama lessons, primarily for the playfulness and freedom of the lessons and the skills and confidences they developed. Students also enjoyed the teacher’s encouragement and humor, though some students reported experiencing difficulty with the ambiguity of lessons, being asked to make decisions and form solutions, performing, and working with others. While many students enjoyed the freedom of the drama lessons, some felt that there was too much freedom and were uncomfortable with the level of independence given to them by the drama teacher.

Significance of the Findings:

These findings indicate that drama-as-creative-teaching, specifically teacher guided task-oriented collaborative learning involving playfulness, innovation, and freedom, can be an enjoyable experience with cognitive and social benefits for students, specifically the development and support of imaginative thinking and creativity. At the same time, some students may struggle with the freedom and independence inherent to such drama experiences.

Methodology:

The researcher used a descriptive case study methodology to investigate how drama-based creative pedagogy fosters children’s creativity. The researcher selected two sixth-grade classes, with a total 67 children ages ten and eleven, to serve as the case study classrooms. One class was in an urban area of Taipei, while the other class was in a rural area. Both classes received ten weeks of twice-weekly drama lessons, which were designed using creative pedagogy and integrated elements of each school’s curriculum. The drama lessons included warm-up theater games, higher-order thinking tasks, and closing reflective activities.

The researcher included the classroom and drama teachers in the case study and collected qualitative data from both the students and the teachers. The student qualitative data came from response sheets, program-log diary entries, and structured group interviews. The researcher analyzed the qualitative data by sorting information into topics and categories and coding and interpreting the data to reveal significant patterns and perspectives. Prior to the start of the study, the researcher completed a pilot study to refine both the research plan and the instruments for data collection.

Limitations of the Research:

This research was conducted exclusively in Taiwan and results may not generalize to other contexts. The study is also weakened through its reliance on self-reported data. Findings were based primarily on students’ interpretations of their development and experience.

Questions to Guide New Research:

To what extent do the findings from this study apply to other contexts? Would different measures lead to the same results? How is student creativity developed? Would the findings hold up in a structured experimental design, with randomly selected control and experimental groups in controlled environments?