Theatre and citizenship : playbuilding with English language learner youth



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As the number of non-native English speakers in US schools continues to rise, there is growing need to find a way to teach English while still engaging with students’ fluid identities around citizenship and national identity. This MFA thesis document explores the impact of an autobiographical playbuilding project with refugee and immigrant youth. The mixed-methods study uses a quantitative performance assessment scale and grounded theory analysis of playscript and performance to examine how students’ definition and understanding of citizenship is activated through the pedagogy and practice of theatre. Throughout, this document argues that arts-based research practices can support both qualitative and quantitative research goals. However the findings suggest that qualitative research offers a more complex understanding of potential program impacts. The document concludes with a discussion of the tensions between research and practice when applied theatre is facilitated in an educational context.