Playing the part: A case study on new literacies and drama
Macro, Katherine J.
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The purpose of this dissertation was to look at what happens for both teacher and student when an innovative teacher uses creative methods of instruction that include dramatic techniques. This case study was conducted in a 11 th grade English classroom in a suburban high school in which the teacher used dramatic activities with his students to teach literature. The study focused not only on the teacher’s perceptions of his students and himself in the classroom but also on the students as well; four students in particular were part of the focus group in order to look at how they took up the dramatic activities and were, or were not, influenced by them over time. Situated within the theoretical frameworks of New Literacies Studies, Sociocultural Theory and Dialogism, this study examines the following research questions: (1) What happens in an English classroom where a teacher and students engage in dramatic activities? (2) How do students perceive themselves and their learning as they participate in dramatic activities? (3) How does the teacher perceive his students as learners and his own professional development as a result of the dramatic activities? (4) How can these experiences and perceptions help to situate drama as a new literacy and mode for learning in English education? Data collected included field notes, interviews, video of drama lessons, reflections, and artifacts from the classroom being studied. Data analysis was recursive, audio and video were transcribed for talk and movement and analysis included repeated viewings. The findings from this case study are organized into two major themes: a dramatic community of learners and drama as a new literacy. The data indicates that drama requires a safe emotional space in which to learn, it engages students and aids memory and comprehension, it also offers meaningful development for the teacher; drama is an embodied and multimodal method and is in fact a literacy. A comprehensive discussion, using many of the participants own words is included within this dissertation, along with specific implications for future research in the area of drama in education.