The aim of this study was to discover what happens to students’ reading comprehension skills in high school when they use creative drama rather than traditional methods. The researcher combined creative drama with reading through different activities. The students who were assessed were Turkish mother-tongue speakers. Two classes from the same year received instruction in the differing methods over a three week period. Data were collected and the pre to post changes were compared using a two tailed independent sample t-test. The researcher’s hypothesis was null and this hypothesis was rejected. The results of the study suggested that there was a significant difference between teaching readings through drama over traditional methods.
The study took place in a K-12 school. It is a small private school with approximately 400 students and offers an education from Kindergarten Level to Grade 12. The school follows the Turkish National Curriculum; and has been authorized by the International Baccalaureate Programme since 2004, and it is a member of CIS and ECIS (Council of International Schools &amp;amp;amp;amp; European Council of International Schools).
Students are interested in self-development. Approximately 95% of the students are of Turkish nationality and their mother tongue is Turkish, and 5% of the students are from mixed ethnicity but mainly with one Turkish parent. Their second language is English and third language is German or Spanish. The socioeconomic status of the families is upper-middle class. Their age ranges from 4 years up to 18.
The Researcher works in an IB school as an ESL Teacher and CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) Coordinator which is a part of the IB Diploma Programme. She organizes different voluntary activities in national and international aspects and participates in different projects like helping homeless children, campaigns for village schools, etc.
Importance of the study
Reasons for Undertaking the Project
Reading comprehension is one of the basic skills needed in order to understand and retain the details, sequences and meanings from written material. However, students are becoming less interested in reading. For this reason, for the purpose of this paper, the researcher wanted to develop a project where creative drama is used in developing students’ reading comprehensions. Because students are becoming less interested in reading, she used imagining through drama to create clear pictures in students’ mind of what they are reading. Drama can be a vehicle to make reading to interact in a creative way. Du Pont (1992) found that students who were directly involved in drama activities following readings were able to transfer their mental imaging skill to other readings. Drama helps children to journey inside the story garden, so they can be able to reconstruct the symbols, images and narrative sequences ‘‘ in action’’ thus re-examining the story’s ideas, experimenting with them, learning to ‘play’ with the narrative, and in reflection, coming to an understanding of both the story’s possibilities and the art form used to create it (Neeland, 1984).
This study was an attempt to examine the effect of creative drama on developing reading comprehension skills over traditional methods. The researcher wanted to combine creative drama and reading comprehensive strategies in the learning and teaching process.
Significance to the researcher
The researcher as a teacher of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme believes in active learning and wants to improve students’ creativity using drama in order to improve their reading comprehension skills and to see if drama can help to teach language more effectively than traditional methods.
Significance to the school
Various methods have been used in order to develop the quality of English education at school but because of the curriculum (Turkish National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate Programme) and students’ poor backgrounds in language; it is not always possible to achieve that. School administration pays a lot of attention to using drama in a classroom in order to develop students critical thinking both in Turkish and English classes. For this reason, using drama in order to develop reading comprehension and improve students’ literacy could raise educational standards in the school.
Significance to the students
Students sometimes find it difficult to learn through traditional structural and grammar-based methods. They want to be more active and they appreciate every attempt to make lessons more interesting. They can learn something as well as having fun.
A search of the literature has suggested that drama can improve language skills. References supporting that it also may help to develop creativity and inventiveness and curiosity. It teaches students to question and develop self-perception and visualization. It improves communication skills and develops critical thinking (Caslin, 1980). Reading and drama are closely linked in the learning process. They interact with each other to develop the same personal resources in the child, building links between print and experience, dream and reality (Innes, 1983). Education is the processes of helping humans find essential meanings in life, and this search of meaning links reading and drama. These meanings accrue by living through actual and symbolic experiences, both in life and in role. Finding meaning and developing thought, feeling and language potential are bound up with the child’s attempts to make sense of life’s situations by being involved in them and by drawing inferences from them (Donaldson, 1978). Eisner (1991) remind us that the ability to read and use language is only as adequate as our ability to effectively reveal meaning through terms. The dramatization of the text creates meanings and culminates in the visualization of ideas. Winston and Tandy (1998) suggest that drama brings together two basic human activities, play and storytelling and that is ‘‘through achieving the distance afforded by fiction that we can reflect more securely upon issues which have significant effects in our lives’’. In drama the children are not passive recipients of the story but are, instead, active participants in the events, tensions, problems and solutions.
Statement of the Issue to be Investigated
The researcher wanted to know how and why drama might be a useful tool in developing reading comprehension skills and she wanted to combine creative drama and reading in order to compare this method to traditional method. Do students learn better in one way than in another way?
This research study was designed to answer this question: What happens to 10th grade students’ reading comprehension skills as measured by a reading comprehension test when they learn through creative drama?
The researcher predicted a null hypothesis in the results of this research project. In other words, she predicted that there would be no difference in the amount of improvement between the intervention and the comparison group.
The material covered reading texts from the year 10 English Language Program based on School and Turkish National Curriculum. The same material was used for the intervention and comparison groups but the teaching method was different. The researcher made some changes in the structure of the intervention classroom environment to more fully meet the learning needs of each student. It included an independent reading corner with some pillows, an activity table where students were able to do their activities and drama corner. Resources which were used during activities included books about how to use creative drama in the classroom, reading texts which could be dramatized and drama games. All this material was appropriate to students’ level 10. The comparison group continued to do their lessons in the classroom. The same material was used for them but they learnt through traditional methods. Posters, pictures objects were used to encourage students to get engage in the topic. A wide range of fiction texts were selected. The lessons started with warm-up activities, pre-discussions and pictures in both groups. Comprehension questions such as who, when, what, interpretations response tasks questions like, what is the message from the author, what conclusion can we draw about the character, how do you feel about the character were included in the context. Students in the intervention group were asked to visualize the topic and reflect on their character role. They were involved in the planning preparation and were guided in how to prepare their interpretation by questions like;
1. Who are we? (characters and roles)
2. What are we? (setting, context)
3. What are we doing? (problem, tension)
4. Why are we doing? (focus, theme, issue)
5. How we will show this? (body language, movement, mood) (Reid, 2002).
At the end of the project students from the intervention group could express their feelings and experience of learning through drama.
The sample consisted of two year 10 classes with approximately 18 students in each class. This is their second year in this school. They are Turkish students with mixed abilities. English is their second language. The genders were more or less equal. For the purpose of this paper they received 2 hours of instruction every week from the same teacher.
Procedure and Instrumentation
The researcher took permission from every parent of a child who wanted to participate. (Appendix A). After taking permission from parents and school (Appendix B) a quasi-experimental design was used in pre-test and post-test to collect and analyze the data for the research. Both groups were given a reading comprehension pre-test in order to check their understanding on comprehension questions.
The researcher started work on October 6, 2008 where students were selected into two groups by random sample and pre-test was given to them. The same pre-test and post-test was administered to both groups on the same day at the same time. The research lasted until November 4, 2008 where the post-test was given.
Students took two forty minute’s sessions of intervention per week. The lessons were held on the same day but at different times. It was collaboration between researcher, English teacher and drama teacher. Students in the intervention group had reading class through creative drama exercises including role-play games, pre-reading activities, after reading activities, character card games, board games, fact file, reading aloud, literature groups and guided imagery while students in the comparison group continued their lesson through traditional methods. (Appendix C) The post-test was given on November 6, 2008. On November 12, 2008 results were calculated (see figure 1).