University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Higher Education - Border or Boundary? Can Theatre in Education Help Promote a University Education?

Reeves, Alison ORCID: (2012) Higher Education - Border or Boundary? Can Theatre in Education Help Promote a University Education? In: 7th International Drama in Education Research Institute, 10th - 15th July 2012, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. (Unpublished)

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With the expansion and increased availability of Higher Education the progression to study for an undergraduate degree has been viewed as a simple stepping stone with examination success a straight - forward border pass. Changes in the funding of degree courses has established a series of more challenging boundaries to entry which demand a rigorous assessment of the benefits of Higher Education.

The Widening Participation Unit at The University of Worcester has sought to ease this border crossing for pupils whose parents have not been to university.
Their experience from previous projects was that school pupils more easily relate to undergraduate students whose experience of Higher Education is recent and relevant. With this in mind they commissioned the Drama and Performance Department to create a Theatre in Education programme that introduced an awareness of post sixteen options and future choices to challenge Higher Education stereotypes.

As a result of this collaboration Why Bother? was created, directed by myself and devised and researched with four students who were studying drama. Their own experiences were used to inform the character development and dealt with worrying as a mature student about integration into full – time education, loss of income after working, the pressures of emotional commitments to partners and being away from home. The programme toured to two thousand year 9 – 11 pupils in Worcestershire and Herefordshire schools in January and May 2011.
Devising and touring Why Bother provided students with an opportunity to work as a professional paid TIE team that it is not possible for them to do as part of their undergraduate degree course.

My initial research looks at the effectiveness and limitations of this project based on pupil questionnaires and the experiences of the team which are explored within the broader context of TIE and its potential for affecting attitudinal change. This has given rise to a number of questions that need consideration in the development of a new TIE programme aimed at raising the awareness of sixth form students who are about to make the decision whether to apply to university or not.

Collaboration with university students in exploring the value of an education that they have subscribed to raises issues of bias and whether their powers of persuasion actually prevent pupils from making their own individual decision. The ethics of promoting a “free” university education seem much less complex than the decision required now which involves balancing the real value against the high financial cost suggested in the working title of Is it Worth it?

This paper will present my first attempts to develop research methods and methodologies that will enable me to evaluate the success of this and future TIE.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: theatre in education
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
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Depositing User: Alison Reeves
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2016 11:23
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:14

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