Horn, J. (1992). An exploration into the writing of original scripts by inner-city high school drama students (ED366957). National Arts Education Research Center.


Researchers investigated how student participation in a theater class that put the students in charge of creating and implementing a theater piece affected student outcomes, such as classroom and library attendance, motivation to write, attitude toward school, and self esteem. The study involved 29 students from an urban high school. Using observations, a pre-post questionnaire, interviews, and logs, researchers found that participation in the theater class led to positive student outcomes, such as improved attendance, creative writing ability, self-esteem, and critical thinking skills.

Key Findings:

Students involved in writing a theater piece improved their classroom attendance, library attendance, perceived creative writing ability, self-esteem, and critical thinking skills.

Significance of the Findings:

This study finds that student participation in an arts class has positive impact on a range of student outcomes including classroom attendance. This study has particular implications for the use arts programs to address classroom attendance in urban high schools where students have low attendance and higher dropout rates. It also has implications for policymakers and educators concerned with fostering students’ critical and creative thinking skills.


The researchers observed student participation, interviewed students, and analyzed classroom attendance data. Students also kept logs to document their thoughts and feelings about the theater piece they were writing and completed a pre- and post-test questionnaire to assess their critical thinking skills and self-esteem. Researchers used qualitative data analysis techniques and descriptive statistics.

Limitations of the Research:

The study’s small sample size limits the generalizability of the results. Further, participants self-selected into the class. Originally, 51 students were enrolled in the class but only 29 students remained in at the end of the study. This means that 43% of the students dropped out of the class. The positive outcomes could have been related to the attributes of the students’ that remained in the class, rather than an effect of the class.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Could the findings from the study be replicated using a random assignment design? Could student participation in other art classes produce similar results? Were there any student characteristics associated with the positive outcomes?