Amanda Mayes, Ph.D.
Schools continue to narrow their focus to subjects included on standardized tests. Justifying subjects and activities not covered on those assessments is increasingly difficult. As a result, subjects like theatre are overlooked in favor of math, science, and literacy initiatives. Although research suggests involvement in the arts has positive academic impacts, few studies with experimental designs are exploring the impact of live performances on literacy initiatives. This study seeks to broaden the understanding of the ability of arts integration in supporting literacy in early readers, broaden the types of tools used to assess educational outcomes, and understand the role cultural institutions play in producing educational outcomes.
The primary goal of this study is to understand the intrinsic and academic/literacy impacts of a live performance. In order to meet this goal, schools will be recruited to have their students attend a live performance of My Father’s Dragon. This show is based upon the book of the same name by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This book has a grade level reading equivalent of 4.8. Students in grades K-5 will be targeted to attend the performance. All students who participate in the study will be provided with a copy of the book. Students in grades K-3 will have the book read to them in advance of the performance. Students in grades 4-5 will read the book in advance of the performance.
Schools will be randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group. Schools assigned to the treatment group will attend the live performance after reading the book, then will complete a comprehension assessment within 48 hours of the live performance. Schools assigned to the control group will read the book, complete the comprehension assessment, then attend the live performance. The evaluation tool will assess knowledge of the characters and plot, vocabulary, tolerance levels, and empathy.
This study will help to build the body of research examining the intrinsic benefits of a live performance and start to construct the body of knowledge on the academic impacts of the performing arts.
Please contact Dr. Amanda Mayes at Purdue University with further questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (765) 494-2695.