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Title: The social drama of a learning experience : how is drama appropriated as a pedagogical toolkit in secondary classrooms?
Author: Grainger Clemson, Hannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 9845
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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The thesis presents a qualitative study which examines teachers’ and pupils’ experiences of drama tasks in secondary school subject lessons other than Drama, where the tasks are incorporated in pursuit of curriculum-defined teaching and learning goals. I take a cultural-historical perspective in my analysis, interrogating the possibilities for meaningful appropriations of drama as a pedagogical toolkit by examining social interaction and communication within the cultural context of the classroom and how these practices may have developed over time. Set in four secondary school classrooms in the UK, the study focused on the experiences of teachers, (who are not trained drama specialists), and their pupils as they undertook drama tasks as part of curriculum lessons. I carried out a series of lesson observations, supplemented by interviews with participants. Using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (Cole 1996, Engeström 1987, Engeström 1999) as a heuristic tool, I created an analytical framework that explored the tensions between communicative tools, rules of the classroom space, and teacher-pupil and peer relations. This theoretical stance appreciates both the dynamic nature of classrooms and the possibilities for pedagogies of choice. The emphasis on tool-mediated action offers a fresh perspective in that it creates a structured and detailed framework for exploring the subtle and complex process of empathetic thought. This study reveals some of the ways in which tensions occur and existing and historically-embedded cultural practices are brought to the surface, and reinforced or challenged. I provide extracts from the data to illustrate a concern for an assessment-driven acquisition of curriculum content is a particular constraint, along with varying opportunities for both teacher and pupils to construct a framework for spontaneous in-role action within the dramatic form. The appropriation of communicative tools, although influential in achieving goals, does not always preclude emotional investment in the tasks. Although there are shifts from teacher authority to increased pupil decision-making, the way in which the teacher and pupils operate in these drama tasks reveals as much about the established and reinforced learning and social practices of the classroom, as the way these practices are changed. The research considers how drama as a pedagogical toolkit has developed historically, and it reveals implications for future study and practice relating to the understanding of drama-as-toolkit within formal educational settings.
Supervisor: Ellis, Viv Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociocultural and activity theory ; Learning facilitation ; Dramatic arts ; Education ; drama ; pedagogy ; secondary ; social ; learning