If women write in milk, do children write in snot? Children's voices in documented drama

  • Sally Harris

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis investigates the documentation of drama as a means of assessment at GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). Through a feminist lens, this research exposes the external influences that govern the students' experience of drama as an examination. It is a statutory requirement for all GCSE subjects to include a Quality of Written and Communication (QWC) component and this has led to tension between the government's insistence for parity across all GCSE subjects and drama's historical, emancipatory/equity reputation of valuing the felt, emotional learning process. The teacher-researcher's story unfolds through the six stages of heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990).

This study explores the complexities, potential and value of documentation and focuses on two case studies undertaken over three years between 2008 and 2011. Initially the study focuses on the students' experience of the exam and the completion and assessment of their documentation. The report's focus then widens to include those practitioners who have had some impact in the development of drama, including those who work in the theatre and use working notebooks to document and reflect on their practice. In the subsequent 2010 case study of Year 10 students, an optional method of documentation is offered to both encourage in-role writing and to use as a reflective aide memoir for critical dialogue during tutorials. It also examines the marking criteria of the documentation and questions its capacity to measure students' lived experience in a creative and valuable way.

The adoption of the French feminist's metaphor of writing in milk drives the study. It is argued that the present statutory QWC (Quality of Written and Communication) component that relies on the measurement of a student's ability to spell and punctuate does little to encourage either student or teacher to create documentation that truly reflects the potentially rich creative flow that is the nutritious milk of the valuable process of a true learning drama experience. This is a waste of an opportunity for learning.

During this period of the research, memories of the assessment methods used by the now extinct Leicestershire Mode III syllabus grow in significance. The problem of assessing the ephemeral felt experience of the drama student was accepted as an opportunity to theorise rather than sanitise through standardisation.

The study concludes by suggesting that drama practitioners re-visit the drama pedagogy embedded in the now defunct Leicestershire Mode III exam. Its assessment strategy employed formative assessment through the process of drama. The thesis suggests that a revision of the current interpretation of QWC could provide a space within the documentation process for students to express their voice with an enhanced level of commitment and creativity. This will entail a more complex marking criteria where teachers should rise to this challenge of enabling students to reach their own unique potential.
Date of Award2011
LanguageEnglish
SupervisorJudith Ackroyd (Supervisor), Sonya Andermahr (Supervisor) & Ross W Prior (Supervisor)

Cite this

If women write in milk, do children write in snot? Children's voices in documented drama
Harris, S. (Author). 2011

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis