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Signature Pedagogies In Undergraduate Theatre As Revealed Through Assessment: An Exploratory Study

Chris Gray, Illinois State University

Imported from ProQuest Gray_ilstu_0092E_10520.pdf


Theatre programs need empirical evidence of signature pedagogies and assessment activities to respond to the increasing calls for accountability and expectations of assessment evidence. This research catalogs current pedagogical and assessment practices and identifies signature pedagogies using National Association of Schools of Theatre self-studies. Five institutions, representing the accredited and presumably top-performing I institutions, provided over 500 pages of documents describing their current practices and approaches to providing undergraduate theatre assessment. The evidence revealed that there are rich and authentic pedagogical-approaches occurring in theatre but the theatre programs do not close the assessment gap on these pedagogical approaches and instead report assessment activities that are less contextualized and appear to serve only to meet assessment compliance. However, the pedagogical approaches revealed core values of the discipline including that theatre values the quest for quality in performance, the subjective and divergent nature of problems in the discipline, and that growth in the student matters more so than reaching a pre-determined outcome. These

values shape the pedagogical approach and led to the discovery of performance and critique as signature pedagogies of theatre. Critique and performance are public, habitual, and affective means in which theatre is taught and reflect the professional standards of the discipline. Additionally, the research revealed that collaboration, recursive pedagogy, and professional socialization are pedagogical habits that shape the way in which theatre is taught. These descriptions provide an important insight into how theatre is taught and calls for the need to more closely examine the pedagogical approaches to document these meaningful and authentic assessment practices already occurring and to assist theatre practitioners in using these data to close the assessment loop. Theatre programs are rich with meaningful pedagogical approaches that are at the heart of authentic assessment and are on the verge of being a model for contextualized and meaningful assessment that serves to help meet the needs for results and make the learning process more public, transparent and meaningful for students.