2006 Teaching and Learning Symposium

3:00-4:30 p.m., April 25, 2006
Mary Gates Commons


Session Description

Preparing Students for Group Assignments Through Performance

Diane Gillespie and Sally Rosamond - Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell

Faculty and student researchers investigating the group-work  experiences of undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences students at the UW-Bothell campus present a classroom pedagogy  intended to prepare students for working in groups. The exercise presented intends to give students an opportunity to reflect on and critically examine group interactions and conflicts. The pedagogy draws from Augusto Boal's Forum Theatre; a performance technique where an audience views a short interaction of oppression or conflict from their community and members of the audience attempt to change the outcome of the script by becoming (replacing) the characters and using different actions.  Through multiple replays of the script and discussion about the effectiveness of  audience-generated changes to the script, facilitator and audience consider how to bring about a desired outcome of the event being depicted.  

For this use of Forum Theatre, several short scenes of student group conflict  in undergraduate student group experience have been  developed from interviews with undergraduates who have had groups in many of their classes.  The scripts have been piloted with students in a 400 level interactive learning course on the UWB campus and presented at the 2004 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed conference to a small group of instructors. In both of these sessions, participants expressed a greater understanding of the academic and social pressures experienced in student groups. 

Discussion will include the  findings of the UWB small group research that supports  the need to train students in strategies for participating in groups research as well as the lessons-learned from the use of the scripts with student and faculty audiences. Script sets, and other materials to support instructors' investigations of the dynamics of student groups in their own classrooms will be available.