English

DICE – The impact of Educational Drama and Theatre on Key Competences

Adam Cziboly

To Cite this Article

APA : Cziboly, A. (2015). DICE – The impact of Educational Drama and Theatre on Key Competences. p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e , 2 (1-2). http://www.p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e.org/?p=2003

Chicago : Cziboly, Adam. “DICE – The impact of Educational Drama and Theatre on Key Competences.” p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e 2, no. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2015). http://www.p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e.org/?p=2003

MLA : Cziboly, Adam. “DICE – The impact of Educational Drama and Theatre on Key Competences.” p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e 2.1-2 (2015). http://www.p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e.org/?p=2003


Abstract

DICE (“Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education”) was a cross-cultural quantitative research study investigating the effects of educational theatre and drama on five of the eight Lisbon Key Competences. The research was conducted by twelve partners (leader: Hungary, partners: Czech Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom), investigating 111 different educational theatre and drama programmes with the participation of 4475 students.

Large-scale quantitative research shows that compared with peers who had not been participating in any educational theatre and drama programmes, the theatre and drama participants are assessed more highly by their teachers in all aspects; feel more confident in reading and understanding tasks; feel more confident in communication; are more likely to feel that they are creative; like going to school more; enjoy school activities more; are better at problem solving; are better at coping with stress; are significantly more tolerant towards both minorities and foreigners; are more active citizens; show more interest in voting at any level; show more interest in participating in public issues; are more empathic; are more able to change their perspective; are more innovative and entrepreneurial; show more dedication towards their future and have more plans; are much more willing to participate in any genre of arts and culture; spend more time in school and with family members; are more likely to be a central character in the class; have a better sense of humour and feel better at home.

Keywords

Lisbon Key Competences, educational theatre and drama, quantitative research, cross-cultural research, impact measurement.


Introduction

What is DICE?

DICE (“Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education”) was an international EU-supported project. In addition to other educational aims, this two-year project was a cross-cultural research study investigating the effects of educational theatre and drama on five of the eight Lisbon Key Competences: Communication in the mother tongue; Learning to learn; Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences, civic competence; Entrepreneurship and Cultural expression.[1] The research was conducted by twelve partners (leader: Hungary, partners: Czech Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom). Educational theatre and drama practitioners have believed in the efficacy of their work for a long time, but until now it has rarely been measured with scientific tools. In the DICE project, several dozen educational theatre and drama practitioners from twelve countries, with the widest theoretical and professional background, have allied forces with academics (psychologists and sociologists), to measure the impact of educational theatre and drama.

The objectives of the project were:

• To demonstrate with cross-cultural quantitative and qualitative research that educational theatre and drama is a powerful tool to improve the Lisbon Key Competences. The research was conducted with almost five thousand young people aged 13-16 years.

• To publish a Policy Paper based on the research, and disseminate it among educational and cultural stakeholders at the European, national, and local levels worldwide.

• To create an Education Resource – a publication for schools, educators and arts practitioners about the different practices of educational theatre and drama. To disseminate this pack at the European, national, and local levels worldwide.

• To compare theatre and drama activities in education in different countries and help the transfer of know-how between experts.

• To hold conferences in the partner countries in order to disseminate the results of the project, as well as a conference in Brussels to disseminate the first main results to key EU leaders in the relevant areas of arts, culture, education and youth.

Our hypothesis was that educational theatre and drama has an impact on five of the eight Lisbon Key Competences. (“Key competences in the shape of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to each context are fundamental for each individual in a knowledge-based society. They provide added value for the labour market, social cohesion and active citizenship by offering flexibility and adaptability, satisfaction and motivation. Because they should be acquired by everyone, this Recommendation proposes a reference tool for the Member States to ensure that these key competences are fully integrated into their strategies and infrastructures, particularly in the context of lifelong learning.” This quotation is derived from the Recommendation that first set out the Key Competences in 2005.[2] In the DICE project we investigated the effect of educational theatre and drama on five of the eight suggested competences, and in addition we ourselves suggested a sixth one.)

We examined the following five out of the eight Key Competences:

1. Communication in the mother tongue

2. Learning to learn

3. Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences, civic competence

4. Entrepreneurship

5. Cultural expression

Our hypothesis was that generally most educational theatre and drama activities could have some kind of an impact on these five, regardless the subject in which drama or theatre is being used. In other words, we selected these five competences out of the eight because we believed that drama as a form of teaching can improve these, regardless of the content.

We did not examine Communication in foreign languages; Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology; and Digital competence. Undoubtedly drama can be a useful tool to teach foreign languages, as many other researches prove, or even science, mathematics or some aspects of ICT. However, only in such cases when drama is intentionally used for such purposes. On the other hand, almost all dramatic activities might enhance communication skills, social skills or cultural competence on the long run, and could even have impact on entrepreneurial and learning attitudes. Our intention was to examine the widest spectrum of dramatic activities available in Europe, that’s why we focused on these five competences only.

Furthermore, we believe that there is a competence not mentioned among the Key Competences, which is the universal competence of what it is to be human (in more details see below). We have called this competence “All this and more”, and included it in the discussion of the research results.

These six are life-long learning skills and competences necessary for the personal development of young people, their future employment, and active European citizenship.

The key outcomes of the project are the Education Resource and the Policy Paper, and hopefully also a long series of publications of the detailed research results in future years, beyond the scope of the project.

The innovative aspect of the project is that this is the first research to demonstrate connections between theatre and drama activities in education and the Lisbon Key Competences, with the added value that the research results will be widely shared with the relevant communities and stakeholders. As many of the competences have rarely or never been examined before in cross-cultural studies, we also had to invent and develop new measurement tools that might be useful in the future for other educational areas. Besides some newly developed questionnaires for children, teachers, theatre and drama practitioners and external assessors, we devised a toolkit for the independent objective observation of educational theatre and drama classes. All materials used were identical in all twelve countries, and therefore are applicable in any culture.

Pedagogical credo of DICE

Openness, empathy and responsibility are the fundamentals of active citizenship, pluralism, solidarity and civil dialogue.

To increase openness, empathy and responsibility in society, we need to target children and youth. Children are the members of tomorrow’s society, capable of new ideas with a developing personality. We should empower more and more children to understand the values of democracy, be sensitive to social problems, have the ability to ask valid questions and examine answers from multiple points of view, so they will become open-minded, empathic and responsible.

To reach children, we need a tool that will deeply interest and engage them. We should teach them through the art form of theatre and drama, and through dramatic role-play and stories in which the pupils become actively engaged in exploratory investigation of moral, social or curriculum contents and what it means to be human in a contemporary world. In this way they become enabled and empowered – active and thinking citizens.

The ethos underpinning the DICE project has been developed by the practice of the research project itself. It reflects our own learning, the spirit of our collaboration and the ongoing process we are engaged in through educational theatre and drama. We do not claim to be an absolute authority on the theory and practice of educational drama and theatre. We are a group of artist educators and arts education pedagogues who came together because we hold some fundamental values in common that underpin the work that we do. Principal among them is a commitment to nurture and develop the young; as drama educators and practitioners we work with young people and train others to do so. We proceed from the premise that children and young people are not undeveloped adults but human beings who have rights, should be treated justly and given equality of opportunity.

DICE is not only a two-year-long project, but rather a journey and an enterprise that has just started with this research. In the past two years several hundred people have been working with us, from peer volunteers to members of National Academies of Science. For some of us, this project has been one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, task of our professional career, something from which we could learn significantly.

Introduction to the research methodology

Our research applied a longitudinal cross-cultural design, which basically means that we have been measuring the effect of educational theatre and drama in different cultures (cross-cultural) over a period of time (longitudinal).[3] We have four important research aspects to keep in mind when the effects on Key Competences are investigated:

1. Culture: data was collected from the ‘educational fields’ of twelve different nations (see Figure 1). North and South, East and West, EU and non-EU are represented in our sample.

2. Type of theatre and drama activity in education: Three different kinds of groups with different treatments have been examined in every culture (see Figures 1 and 3):

a. Research groups with ‘one-occasion’ theatre and drama: in which the effects of theatre and drama as a special few-hours-long occasion (e.g. Theatre in Education programme) have been measured,

b. Research groups with ‘continuous, regular theatre and drama activities’: in which the effects of regular meetings in a 4-month-long period (e.g. youth groups preparing theatre performances) have been measured (the minimum established was 10 occasions during the 4 months),

c. Control groups for both research groups: in which there were no occurrences of theatre and drama activities in education. These groups attended the same school or belonged to a very similar environment to the research ones. When an experiment is conducted for the purpose of determining the effect of a single variable of interest, a control is used to minimise the unintended influence of other variables on the same system. In the DICE research, each research group of youngsters participating in an educational theatre and drama activity was matched with a control group that had as many identical characteristics as possible (in most cases from the same school and the same year), ideally the only difference being that they did not participate in any educational theatre and drama activities.

We applied a low-threshold approach: all dramatic and theatrical interventions that agreed the above outlined pedagogical credo could join the research, regardless the methodology used. Among the investigated programmes there were forum theatres, children’s acting groups, drama in education classes and Theatre in Education programmes, so a rich and representative selection of Europe’s educational theatre and drama practices. In other words, we did not measure the impact of just one specific methodology, instead a wide array of dramatic interventions.

3. Age of students: 13-16-year-old youth were investigated in the research study. We chose an adolescent cohort to investigate because: (1) from the point of view of developmental psychology these are the formative years for attitudes (e.g. self-efficacy beliefs). Attitudes have been somewhat under-emphasised aspects of the key competences, yet adolescents depend on social interaction to form their identities. We were interested in how educational theatre and drama can help in this very sensitive period; (2) the definitions of the key competences are suggestions for “output” and therefore a “guide” for education: older children are closer to this output; (3) one of the aims of education is to prepare for life: this can be best measured among older children; (4) educational theatre and drama activities for this age group differ in European countries: while in some of the countries there is little on offer in the theatre and drama field to this age group (e.g. Norway), in other countries theatre and drama teachers believe that developing competences, attitudes and skills through educational theatre and drama activities is very effective in that age group (e.g. Hungary); (5) reliable measurement of attitudes is more possible in that age group (e.g. questionnaires are not reliable with very young children). 

4. Time: Two longitudinal investigations were conducted in order to demonstrate some robust effects of educational theatre and drama activities on key competences: a 4-month-long design for continuous and a short-time (1-month-long) design for one-occasion activities (see Figure 2). Data collection points were as follows:

a. For groups with one-occasion theatre and drama & their control groups (in the period between 1st October 2009 and 31st January 2010):

• Input questionnaires data: two weeks before occasion,

• Observational data: during occasion.

• Output questionnaires data: two weeks after occasion.

b. For groups with regular theatre and drama activities & their control groups:

• Input questionnaires data: between 21st September and 15th October 2009.

• Observational data: during a theatre and drama activity in the period between 15th November and 15th December 2009

• Output questionnaires data: in January 2010 (for a few groups: in December 2009).

In summary: for one-occasion research groups the research period was four weeks, for continuous ones it was 3 to 4 months. Although the measured period was short, it was long enough to indicate if any changes occurred, and to prognosticate what effect that specific programme would have on a long-term basis. (If there is a minor but significantly positive change within four months, we can assume that a major change in the same direction would be likely over several years.)

figure1

Figure 1: Cross-cultural aspect of the research.

figure2

Figure 2: Time aspect of the research (longitudinal design).


figure3

Figure 3: Sample structure in a country.


figure4

Figure 4: Sorts of and relationships between the different types of data.

Results

Descriptive statistics

Number of students measured

In the DICE research, there is data from 4,475 students altogether, with almost equal numbers of boys and girls. 1,080 different variables were measured per student.[4]

This means exactly 4,833,000 cells of unique data, several hundred thousands of connections, interactions and relationships to be examined among variables, a statistical output file of 1,23 GB (just the very first and basic analyses only), and the potential for several dozen publications in the coming years. What appear to be the most important findings are presented below for the first time.

Please note: due to the vastness and complexity of the data, covering all the research results will take several hundred (or more likely several thousand) pages. The results shown here are a selection only.

Main characteristics of the educational theatre and drama programmes measured

111 different educational theatre and drama programmes have been measured, of which

• 56 were continuous and 55 were one-occasion.

• 83 groups were homogeneous (students were from the same class) and 25 were heterogeneous (students were from different classes or schools) (data missing in 3 cases).

• The distribution of the programmes among the countries was the following: Czech Republic: 4, Hungary: 26, Netherlands: 6, Norway: 7, Palestine: 13, Poland: 10, Portugal: 6, Romania: 7, Serbia: 7, Slovenia: 12, Sweden: 7, United Kingdom: 6.

In summary, the sample is not only large but also very heterogeneous and therefore representative of today’s educational theatre and drama activities in Europe.

Effect of educational theatre and drama on key competence “Communication in the mother tongue”

Communication in the mother tongue*

Communication in the mother tongue is the ability to express and interpret thoughts, feelings and facts in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing), and to interact linguistically in an appropriate way in the full range of societal and cultural contexts — education and training, work, home and leisure, according to their specific needs and circumstances.

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 18 December 2006, on key competences for lifelong learning

Analysing the input measurement data, when those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are compared with those who do not, significant differences are found on the following scales:

Scale Some typical questions from the scale Mean score of those who participate in drama Mean score of those who do NOT participate in drama Difference Significance
Reading and understanding (self assessment) “I easily understand school textbooks.”

“I like reading.”

“I understand metaphors, symbols.”

3.8459 3.6352 4.21 % p<0.000
Confidence in communication (self assessment) “I am shy about speaking to a big audience” (score inversely counted)

“I dare to express my opinion.”

3.7929 3.5499 4.86 % p<0.000
Humour (self-assessment) “I have a sense of humour.”

 

4.2508 4.0723 3.57 % p<0.000

Table 1: Students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities compared with those who do not, according to key competence “Communication in the mother tongue”

In summary, it seems that those students who practise educational theatre and drama activities regularly feel more confident in reading, understanding tasks, communication and humour.

Significance, p value: in statistics, a result is called statistically significant if it is unlikely to have occurred by chance. The significance level is expressed by the p value, and the less it is, the more significant the result is. The p value should be multiplied by 100 and read as a percentage, e.g. when p = 0.02 it means that the possibility of the result having occurred by chance is 2%. In social science, a p < 0.05 is considered to be significant and p < 0.01 is considered to be strongly significant.

ALL results indicated in this article are significant (p<0.05 or less). When p<0.000, it is a very strong significance and it means that it is very unlikely that the result was caused by chance, and very likely that it was caused by the effect we were measuring. We will not repeat this point for each of the tables, but please note that such strong significance is very rare in social sciences, so most of the discussed results have an extremely high significance.

Effect of educational theatre and drama on key competence “Learning to learn”

Learning to learn

 ‘Learning to learn’ is the ability to pursue and persist in learning. Individuals should be able to organise their own learning, including through effective management of time and information, both individually and in groups. Competence includes awareness of one’s learning process and needs, identifying available opportunities, and the ability to handle obstacles in order to learn successfully. It means gaining, processing and assimilating new knowledge and skills as well as seeking and making use of guidance. Learning to learn engages learners to build on prior learning and life experiences in order to use and apply knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts – at home, at work, in education and training. Motivation and confidence are crucial to an individual’s competence.

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 18 December 2006, on key competences for lifelong learning

Analysing the input measurement data, when those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are compared with those who do not, significant differences are found on the following scales:

Scale Some typical questions from the scale Mean score of those who participate in drama Mean score of those who do NOT participate in drama Difference Significance
Creativity (self assessment) “Using my imagination is important to me”

“Being creative (e.g. experimenting, working in different ways) is important to me”

3.6045 3.2586 6.9 % p<0.000
Enjoying school “My lessons are interesting”

“I enjoy coming to school”

3.2968 3.1713 2.51 % p<0.000
How they feel at school A ladder of 1-10, where 10 is that they feel great at school most of the time, and 1 is that they feel terrible most of the time 7.21 6.91 6 % p<0.000

Table 2: Students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities compared with those who do not, according to key competence “Learning to learn”.

In summary, it seems that those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama are more likely to feel that they are creative, and like going to school more, than their peers, and enjoy school activities more.

In a few cases theatre and drama activities can even have an effect on the average grades of students (including all grades and not just humanities). Such a case is seen in the continuous groups in Palestine, where grades are calculated in percentages. The following chart speaks for itself.

chart1

Chart 1: Differences between the Palestinian research group (who have participated in educational theatre and drama activities for three months) and the control group (who have not) in the average grades of students.

Given that the time which elapsed between the input and output measurements was just about three months, one can imagine the long-term effect of educational theatre and drama activities on the school performance of students.

Effect of educational theatre and drama on key competence “Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences and civic competence”

Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences, civic competence

These competences cover all forms of behaviour that equip individuals to

participate in an effective and constructive way in social and working life, and particularly in increasingly diverse societies, and to resolve conflict where necessary. Civic competence equips individuals to fully participate in civic life, based on knowledge of social and political concepts and structures and a commitment to active and democratic participation.

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 18 December 2006, on key competences for lifelong learning

Analysing the input measurement data, when those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are compared with those who do not, significant differences are found on the following scales:

Scale Some typical questions from the scale Mean score of those who participate in drama Mean score of those who do NOT participate in drama Difference Significance
Empathic perspective-taking “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.” 3.7108 3.5845 2.53 % p < 0.000
Empathic concern “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”

“When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective towards them.”

3.9145 3.7072 4.15 % p < 0.000
Problem-solving “I resolve most everyday problems.”

“I resolve most emotional upsets that come up.”

3.7542 3.6419 2.25 % p < 0.000
Coping with stress “I make a plan for action.” 3.6978 3.6420 1.12 % p < 0.052
Dominance in the class “How do you judge your situation in the class? Choose the most appropriate description.

1. I’m a dominant person in a circle of pupils in the class.

2.17 2.11 1.2 % p < 0.020
Social acceptance of out-group (most antipathic ethnicity, minority or nation)[5] “1. I’d have no problem living in the same country with them.

2. I’d have no problem if they were my neighbours.

3. I’d have no problem if they sat at the same desk as me in the class.

3.1865 2.5051 13.63 % p < 0.000
Social acceptance of an unknown nation 3.3333 2.7183 12.3 % p < 0.000
Willingness to vote “If you could take part in democratic decision making and had a chance to express your opinion;  and could go and vote about certain issues, would you go and vote

– in your school (e.g. Students’ Union/school council election)?

– in the election of the European Parliament?”

0.6611 0.5831

 

7.8 % p < 0.000
Active participation “Can you imagine yourself

– campaigning or arguing for an important public issue

– expressing your opinion in the papers, in the radio or on TV on a certain issue

0.6420 0.5268 11.5 % p < 0.000

Table 3. Students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities compared with those who do not, according to key competence “Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences and civic competence”

To sum up, students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are more empathic: they show concern for others and they are more able to change their perspective. They are better in problem-solving and coping with stress. They are more likely to be a central character in the class. They are very significantly more tolerant towards both minorities and foreigners, and they are much more active citizens: they show more interest in voting or participating in public matters.

The following chart is a vivid illustration of how the social acceptance of the out-group changes in the research group and in the control group.

chart2

Chart 2. Differences between the continuous research group (who have participated in educational theatre and drama activities) and the control group (who have not) in the acceptance of the out-group (the least accepted nationality or minority in the country).

Effect of educational theatre and drama on key competence “Entrepreneurship”

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. This supports everyone in day to day life at home and in society, employees in being aware of the context of their work and being able to seize opportunities, and is a foundation for more specific skills and knowledge needed by entrepreneurs establishing social or commercial activity.

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 18 December 2006, on key competences for lifelong learning

We created two scales to measure this competence: one was a self assessment of entrepreneurship and innovation and the other was measuring the level of dedication to achieve broader goals in the future. Analysing the input measurement data, when those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are compared with those who do not, significant differences are found on both of these scales:

Scale Some typical questions from the scale Mean score of those who participate in drama Mean score of those who do NOT participate in drama Difference Significance
Self-assessment of entrepreneurship and innovation “I am able to see opportunities, or possibilities  of changing things, where others can’t or don’t want to”

“I am able to overcome my fear of danger if I see an opportunity”

3.7021 3.5393 3.26 % p < 0.000
Level of dedication “Do you think you have the talent for, and are you interested in doing, the following things when you are an adult, in the FUTURE?

– running your own business

– inventing new things

3.3624 3.2431 2.39 % p < 0.001

Table 4. Students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities compared with those who do not, according to key competence “Entrepreneurship”

To sum up, students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are more innovative and entrepreneurial, and show more dedication towards their future and have more plans.

Effect of educational theatre and drama on key competence “Cultural expression”

Cultural expression

Appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media, including music, performing arts, literature, and the visual arts. Self-expression through the variety of media […]. Skills include also the ability to relate one’s own creative and expressive points of view to the opinions of others. […] A strong sense of identity is the basis for respect and [an] open attitude to diversity of cultural expression.

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 18 December 2006, on key competences for lifelong learning

Analysing the input measurement data, when those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are compared with those who do not, significant differences are found on the following scales:

Scale Some typical questions from the scale

 

 

 

How often do you…

Mean score of those who participate in drama Mean score of those who do NOT participate in drama Difference Significance
attending classic cultural events “watch/attend an exhibition”

“watch/attend a theatre performance“

“listen to a concert of classical music”

3.4078 2.9535 9.09 % p < 0.000
going to cinema “watch films at the cinema” 4.4528 4.3727 1.6 % p < 0.014
attending popular cultural events “listen to a concert of popular music”

“watch/attend a dance performance”

3.7875 3.4579 6.59 % p < 0.000
participation in arts activities “attend a craft workshop?”

“attend a film course?”

2.0668 1.4084 13.17 % p < 0.000
participation in new media and music “mix music?”

“make your own videos?”

2.2200 1.8714 7.00 % p < 0.000
writing “write short stories/novels/poems/plays?”

“write your own diary (daily journal)?”

2.6119 1.7901 16.44 % p < 0.000
participation in visual arts “draw or paint?”

“work with your hands (arts and crafts)?”

2.8861 2.4990 7.74 % p < 0.000
participation in performing arts “dance?”

“attend a dance group?”

2.7005 1.9333 15.34 % p < 0.000
importance “how important is culture for you?” 7.93 7.21 7.2 % p < 0.000

Table 5. Students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities compared with those who do not, according to key competence “Cultural expression”

These results can be easily summarised. Attending educational theatre and drama activities has a strong transfer effect to other genres of arts and culture, and not just performing arts, but also writing, making music, films, handicrafts, and attending all sorts of arts and cultural activities. It is important to note that these results also underline educational theatre and drama’s community-building effect: some of the largest differences are measured on cultural activities that are done in a group.

Effect of educational theatre and drama on key competence “All this and more”

All this and more…

The No6 on our DICE incorporates the first five but adds a new dimension because educational theatre and drama is fundamentally concerned with the universal competence of what it is to be human. An increasing concern about the coherence of our society and developing democratic citizenship requires a moral compass by which to locate ourselves and each other in the world and to begin to re-evaluate and create new values; to imagine, envisage, a society worth living in, and living with a better sense of where we are going with deep convictions about what kind of people we want to be.

DICE consortium

Let us take a look at whether participation in educational theatre and drama activities has an effect on the quality of life in general and on young people’s engagement in a wide range of activities and social relations. The table below shows how much time on average students spend on various activities. We compared those students who stated that they participate regularly in theatre and drama activities with those who did not. Where the difference between the two groups is significant (p<0.05or usually better), we have marked it in red, clearly indicating which group had a higher mean.

Do you regularly participate in drama or theatre workshops or lessons? (input measurement) NO

 

YES

 

IN A DAY / HOURS Hours   hours
sleeping 8.0083 > 7.9061
relaxing 1.712 > 1.704
eating 1.447 < 1.524
in school 6.317 < 6.403
learning outside of school 1.575 < 1.603
reading (not compulsory material) 0.760 < 0.971
watching TV 1.719 > 1.612
surfing the internet 1.797 > 1.770
playing computer games 0.898 > 0.773
doing housework 0.885 < 0.973
playing, talking, spending time with your family members 1.652 < 1.840
taking care of younger brother(s)/sister(s) 0.496 < 0.579
IN THE LAST WEEK / HOW MANY TIMES occasions   occasions
meeting friends 4.34 < 4.48
doing sports 2.82 > 2.71
spending time with your hobby 3.35 < 3.40
watching , listening to or reading about the news 3.08 < 3.23
doing things for my family (e.g. the shopping, organising supplies, fixing things, making clothes) 2.48 < 2.70
doing a part-time job 0.28 < 0.39
being creative (e.g. making music, writing, acting, dancing etc) 1.95 < 3.00
IN THE LAST MONTH / HOW MANY TIMES occasions   occasions
going to the cinema 1.01 < 1.26
going to the theatre, exhibitions or museums 0.50 < 0.96
visiting shopping centres/markets 4.59 < 5.06
going to pubs, discos, concerts 1.25 < 1.31
praying, going to church/mosque/synagogue 5.43 < 6.64
doing things on the street 6.61 < 6.62
hiking/ going for walks/biking 5.92 < 6.46

Table 6. Comparison of daily activities of students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama programmes and students who do not

The most significant points to be drawn from these findings are that young people who regularly participate in theatre and drama activities spend more time in activities which have a social dimension – both at home (e.g. with their families, taking care of younger siblings) and in the wider community (e.g. they are more likely to have a part-time job, to spend time with friends, and more frequently go to arts venues and events). In contrast, they spend less time watching TV or playing computer games.

Teachers’ assessments

Class teachers were requested to assess all students (research and control) along the five competences. Analysing the input measurement data, when the assessment of those students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities are compared with those who do not, significant differences are found on the scales of all five competences:

Scale Some typical questions from the scale Mean score of those who participate in drama Mean score of those who do NOT participate in drama Difference Significance
Communication S/he always dares to express her/his opinion.

S/he talks a lot.

3.5790 3.4018 3.54 % p < 0.000
Learning to learn S/he easily understands school textbooks. 3.6702 3.4892 3.62 % p < 0.000
Social and civic competence S/he accepts others’ opinions.

S/he is co-operative with adults.

3.8534 3.7175 2.72 % p < 0.000
Entrepreneurship S/he is interested in the world of business.

S/he is able to spot opportunities that peers miss.

3.4809 3.3279 3.06 % p < 0.000
Cultural awareness S/he likes to watch and participate in artistic activities.

S/he likes to participate in drama activities.

3.8580 3.4928 7.3 % p < 0.000

Table 7. Students who regularly participate in educational theatre and drama activities compared with those who do not, according to the assessment of their teachers on five key competences

To put it simply: teachers observe that those students who have participated in educational theatre and drama activities become significantly better in most competences than those students who have not.

Although the measured changes are slight, it is important to remember that only 1-4 months have passed between input and output measurements. If there was continuous access to educational theatre and drama programmes, and given the same tendency of impact, students’ scores could be expected to improve considerably over a longer period.

Most important findings from the analysis of the drama descriptions

The leaders of each investigated educational theatre and drama programme were requested to fill in a self-assessment questionnaire, part of which was the following question:

“What kind of methods do you use during the drama activities? List them briefly. Please also describe briefly the pedagogical, educational, social and aesthetic goals of your work. (Max. 1 page)”

The answers to this question in all of the 111 investigated educational theatre and drama programmes have been analysed with both qualitative and semi-quantitative methods. In this way we could compare the differences and similarities of 111 different educational theatre and drama programmes from twelve different countries. Surprisingly, we found many more similarities than differences. This is in contrast with previous experiences[6] of the analysing researcher; in different educational fields many more inconsistencies, anomalies and misunderstandings can be found among the representatives of the field.

Previous research results DICE description-analysis results
Misunderstanding of the main terms Well-defined, common terms, agreement in their meaning
Lack of common objectives Common objectives, clear goals
Pedagogical-methodological anomalies Common knowledge of pedagogical-methodological tools
Lack of international experiences Curiosity towards international best practice, networking

Table 8. Characteristics of previous research results vs. drama descriptions analysis in DICE

The analysis started with grounded theory coding of thematic issues, common themes appearing in all texts (coding was supported by use of the scientific software, Atlas.ti). At the next level of analysis these thematic issues were narrowed down and channelled into ten main categories. The frequency of appearance of these issues in the drama descriptions shows the overall “prestige” of the topics: the most frequent is considered to be the most important one, according to the authors of the original texts. So it can be stated that much more emphasis is put onto the theoretical issues of drama-work (aims, contents, results) than on such operational topics as evaluation of children’s performance or dissemination of their experiences (national and international tours).

Main themes Frequency of appearance
1. Aims of educational theatre and drama work 98
2. Focus of educational theatre and drama work 78
3. Methods used at educational theatre and drama work 80
4. Results of educational theatre and drama work 61
5. Content of educational theatre and drama work 54
6. Consequences of educational theatre and drama work 44
7. Characteristics of children participating 28
8. National tours 18
9. International tours 7
10. Evaluation of children 3

Table 9. Themes common in all drama descriptions

Most important findings from key experts’ survey

In 2009 we announced a call for educational theatre and drama experts from all around Europe to share their thoughts and assess the situation of educational theatre and drama in their countries. Participation was open to any such expert: an online survey was placed on the project’s website with nineteen open questions, ranging from the prestige of drama teachers in schools to how authorities could improve the situation of educational theatre and drama.

Altogether 61 experts answered the call. Besides countries from the consortium, we were honoured that experts from Croatia, Finland and France also answered the call. The distribution of the respondents according to their country was as follows: Croatia: 2, Czech Republic: 2, Finland: 2, France: 2, Hungary: 13, Netherlands: 2, Norway: 10, Palestine: 1, Poland: 1, Romania: 2, Serbia: 17, Slovenia: 1, Sweden: 2, United Kingdom: 4.

Summary of supportive and obstructive factors in the work and expansion of educational theatre and drama

Existing supportive factors – in general:

1. inner motivation, personal skills, conviction;

2. enthusiastic work,  individual initiative;

3. supportive, experienced and dedicated teachers and senior management in schools,;

4. theatre and drama pedagogues, teachers and senior lecturers in higher education;

5. Master of Arts courses at recognised universities, regular courses in teachers’ training, departments specialised  in educational theatre and drama, quality teaching materials;

6. work of NGOs, civil associations, theatre companies, national theatre and drama associations;

7. supportive theatres, arts centres, arts councils;

8. state financial subsidies, private sponsorship, national/international project money;

9. annual educational theatre and drama festivals, expert workshops, special publications, presence in media (articles, interviews, films).

Existing obstructive factors – in general:

1. low motivation of decision-makers,

2. low motivation of teachers, lack of parental engagement with educational theatre and  drama issues;

3. municipalities not taking drama seriously, not acknowledging its impact on children;

4. dominance of traditional teaching methods in schools, little re-thinking of pedagogy and methodology;

5. low prestige of theatre and drama as a mainstream school-subject;

6. lack of university courses focusing on educational theatre and drama, low quality of existing teachers’ training courses;

7. poor financial support and subsidy of educational theatre and drama;

8. lack of systematic research, external evaluation and feedback.

In general (in oversimplified terms), we see that most of the supportive factors are intrinsic, while most of the obstructive factors are extrinsic.


Further reading

This article allows only a brief introduction, due to objective limits. In case you are interested more in the methodology, some specific results (e.g. observations), suggestions and recommendations or a detailed list of references and previous researches, please consult the project’s webpage: www.dramanetwork.eu, where you can download the research report in 16 languages.

[1]                In the article, we will sometimes refer to the “Lisbon Key Competences” as “Key Competences” only.

[2]                Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 18 December 2006, on key competences for lifelong learning [Official Journal L 394 of 30.12.2006].

[3]                Please note: all research-related materials in this article, including the parts on methodology and the results, are written in a simplified and easily understandable style and not in the style of scientific publications. The reason for this is that this article is written for a wide group of educational and cultural stakeholders and not just for an academic audience. The results will be published in scientific peer-reviewed journals as well, using the appropriate language, format and mathematical statistical data. We have tried to use only the most necessary scientific terms here and to explain them in the text clearly.

[4]                Including originally measured variables and calculated ones, e.g. average scores of scales.

[5]                The exact minority / nationality changed from country to country, based on national data.

[6]                Some examples: (1) “Quality public education against segregation” REI-project, results of the first monitoring study, Open Society Institute, Budapest, 2005.;(2)  Integration in practice (ed. Szilvia Németh), External evaluation of the work of National Integration Network. National Institute for Public Education, Budapest, 2006.; (3) The model schools of inclusive education. Qualitative research, 2009-2010. National Institute for Educational Research and Development. Manuscript.


Biography of Adam Cziboly