Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

First Advisor

Phyllis McCluskey-Titus


This exploratory qualitative study investigated the degree to which participation in college improv comedy affects student development. The study reviews the experiences of students from three different campuses who are involved in improv comedy. Grounded in theories from figured worlds, creativity, student development, memory, cognitive development, identity development, and imagination, this research draws on twelve semi-structured interviews, three group interviews, and three observations of performances. This study answers the following questions: How do college students make meaning of their experience within an improv comedy troupe in relation to academic, social skill, and identity development? What potential does improv comedy have for influencing student growth and development on college campuses? The study provides a historical account of improvisational comedy leading up to the first established improv comedy organizations on college campuses.

Qualitative data analysis revealed themes and subthemes that support student development, including the following: academic, social, identity development and exploration, dropping knowledge, out of thin air, building bridges to new worlds, creating from scratch, teamwork makes the dreamwork, a way with words, hand in hand, fearlessly true to self, widening the gaze, and way of life. The study provides recommendations for integrating improv comedy into curriculum and student affairs practice.


Imported from ProQuest Stewart_ilstu_0092E_10697.pdf


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