Inner Change: Using drama as a counselling method in generating self-awareness and supportive class interactions

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Stinson, Madonna T
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Bundy, Penelope J
Penn-Edwards, Sorrel
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Efforts to enhance the function of counselling departments in primary and middle schools are emphasised in Taiwan; however, emotion-management related courses are haphazard and rare. This study was concerned with investigating to what extent a process oriented drama program might be able to facilitate the inner change of students, especially those students with emotion management problems or the children with low self confidence. The study adopted case study methodology to identify and describe the dramatic phenomena in two separate cases. It aimed to interpret the natural settings of both workshop series and to draw out connections and contradictions. Two stages of analysis were developed in relation to drama concepts and theories. Stage 1 applied the perspectives of personal engagement (Warner), contextual frames (O’Toole), and emotion (Bolton) for analysing drama activities and participants’ varied engagements in each workshop. Stage 2 focused on the themes drawn from the datum in each case, including individuals’ reflections about the dramatic experiences or their regulations after the drama lessons. The participants were primary aged students at a local school in Tainan, Taiwan. Many of the participants in both cases had been identified by their regular teachers having emotional or behavioural problems at school or at home. As the teacher researcher, I designed a drama workshop series I called “Inner Change”, and facilitated two iterations of the workshops. I drew on Warner’s (1995) categories of engagement as well as theories of drama and counselling, emerging from my literature review within the analysis process to consider how might process drama afford opportunities for learning to manage personal emotion and behaviour, and what challenges and constraints emerge when conducting such a program with children who were identified as impulsive or emotional? I also critically reflected on my own processes of design and facilitation such as the decisions and mistakes made in the drama activities and my struggles in the implementations. Reflections of the study demonstrated why I felt regretted in some workshops and how my mindset was shifted and extended after the program. Findings indicate that participant engagement was related to enhanced self--awareness and personal emotion--management, particularly when they engaged as processors or participant--observers in accordance with Warner’s engagement categories. Participants’ levels of engagement changed in the drama processes as the flexible structure of this program allowed opportunities for the students to interact and shift their engagement during workshops. Limitations of this study included the short time frame for the workshop series, and my relatively new experience in planning and facilitation of drama workshops. This study may provide other drama educators with new insights in the identification of participants’ engagement; additionally, new beginners in drama education may learn from this study and, simultaneously, avoid the mistaken decisions as I made in both drama practices.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School Educ & Professional St
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drama program
inner change
emotion-management problems
low self-confidence
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