Date of Award

8-9-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Rhonda Jeffries

Abstract

There is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that drama-based pedagogies significantly contribute to improved teaching and learning. Furthermore, there is important research that demonstrates the impact on teachers when they learn about neuroscience. This research project developed six professional development sessions for six elementary school teachers to provide training on both drama-based instruction and research on embodiment. Combining these two fields presented a problem. Arts-based research is qualitative in nature where cognitive science research depends on post-positivistic assumptions of reliability and trust-worthiness. Missing from these standard measures of research (fMRI studies, STROOP Tests, reaction time tests), however, is the impact of embodiment research, for example, has on teaching and learning beyond the laboratory. Knowing a subject’s response rate or reaction time within laboratory settings is a different piece of data than understanding how a subject (in this case a teacher within public schools) contextualizes and embodies content and transfers that content into embedded memory for later recall. This research project endeavors to study the changes within classrooms and teachers when they attend professional development sessions about how to implement embodied, drama-based pedagogies. Through interviews, field observations, and surveys, the researcher attempts to story the growing quantitative neuro-scientific research on what happens to teachers when they learn about neuroscience with qualitative research that captures the lived experiences of teachers to determine whether this professional development model impacted teacher performance. The study found that training in cognitive science and drama influenced the teachers’ approach to their lesson planning in that they centered their instruction on emotioncentered practice and embodied instruction and therefore. They report having done so because they saw changes in their students’ learning and behavior.

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