The Impact of Theatre on Students

Gloucester Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Gregg Bach shared this article with Ms. Ruggles today. 

Learning from Live Theater
Students realize gains in knowledge, tolerance, and more

The article discusses a study on the impact of theatre and other culturally enriching field trips on high school students during the 2013-2014 school year. The research was designed like a lottery system, where schools applied and were awarded free tickets to attend a professional production of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol. Students were then assessed on information regarding plot and vocabulary knowledge, tolerance, and the ability to read the emotions of others.

Students who attended the performances estimated a 63% gain in knowledge on plot and vocabulary. Students who only read the material or saw a film version estimated a 58% knowledge gain. Students who were assigned readings of the plays or watched movie versions did no better on knowledge testing than other students.

In tolerance of others, students who attended the performances were estimated at 26% more tolerant than students who simply read the material. Students who had not read the material were equally as tolerant as students who had read, and students who watched the movies were somewhat less tolerant.

Regarding emotions, students who attended the live performances scored 23% better identifying emotions portrayed in photographs of eyes than students in the control group. Reading material or watching film did not substantially chance the ability to recognize emotions.

Culturally enriching field trips matter to students. The benefits are significant in a variety of educational outcomes that schools and communities focus on. Live performance is an effective way to teach academic content, increase tolerance, and improve emotional recognition. Not all learning has to occur within the walls of a school building.

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