Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Suha Tamim


This action research study evaluated a problem of practice which emerged from the apathy and passive responses of students to reading classic literature in the high school English classroom. Teachers instructed while students received information with little investment on their part. The purpose of this study was to determine how to help students read closer and develop a deeper comprehension and appreciation of literature while expanding capabilities within the affective domain.

Through a convergent mixed methods action research design, the study addressed three research questions that explored how drama pedagogy affected student comprehension, their attitudes toward reading classic literature, and their perceptions of their empathy toward others. Qualitative and quantitative data collection instruments of pretest and posttest assessments, Likert scales, and reflective journals were used to assess comprehension, attitudes, and perceptions of empathy related to the use of drama pedagogy.

The study revealed that drama pedagogy strategies did increase comprehension and improved students’ attitudes about studying Shakespeare’s work Othello. The study also revealed that the use of drama pedagogy was the impetus for more open classroom discussions. The findings and supporting themes suggest implications for professional development at the school, district, and state level that helps teachers develop and practice drama pedagogy strategies within the classroom. Future research will determine if the drama pedagogy approach to teach literature is effective on other genres of literature such as prose and poetry and with all levels of students.


© 2019, Deborah J. Gascon