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Watching Live Theater Boosts Vocab, Social Skills

Live Theater Improves Student Vocabulary, Social, Emotional Skills, Research Finds

Field trips may be one of the best ways for students to learn. From visiting museums to small businesses, students can learn real-life lessons.

Schools are also choosing to take their students more and more on field trips that do not relate to particular school subjects, said an article on EducationNext.org. Students are going to amusement parks, bowling alleys, and live theaters just for their enjoyment as a way of rewarding their students when testing is over.

The writers said they conducted a study where they "examined the impact of field trips to an art museum." 

"We found significant benefits in the form of knowledge, future cultural consumption, tolerance, historical empathy, and critical thinking for students assigned by lottery to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art," the article said. ". In the current study, we examine the impact of assigning student groups by lottery to see high-quality theater productions of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol. This is the first randomized experiment to discover what students get out of seeing live theater."

The results of the two studies, the article said, are "generally similar", where the writers found that "culturally enriching field trips have significant educational benefits for students whether they are to see an art museum or live theater. Among students assigned by lottery to see live theater, we find enhanced knowledge of the plot and vocabulary in those plays, greater tolerance, and improved ability to read the emotions of others."

The team collaborated with TheatreSquared in Arkansas, where students attended free matinee performances of A Christmas Carol and Hamlet, the article said. "a total of 49 school groups, with 670 students, competed the application process and participated in the study." Students completed surveys after the performances "collected background information on students as well as a number of important outcomes. Each survey contained a series of items to assess student knowledge of the plot and vocabulary used in the plays."

"For each play we asked students six questions about the plot and five questions about the vocabulary used," the article said. "We combined those 11 items into a single scale measuring a student’s knowledge of the plays. Students assigned by lottery to see the live productions improved their knowledge of those plays by 63 percent of a standard deviation, a dramatic increase."

This research, the writers said, "helps demonstrate that schools produce important educational outcomes other than those captured by math and reading test scores, and that it is possible for researchers to collect measures of those other outcomes. If what’s measured is what matters, then we need to measure more outcomes to expand the definition of what matters in education."

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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