Proceess drama and creative problem solving: an integrated approach



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Texas Tech University


Drama is concerned with people facing problems, and creative problem-solving is a field that has emerged to help people solve problems. For quite some time, I have been interested in the similarities and differences in the fields of drama and creative problem-solving. The fields often use similar techniques, yet the fields remain, for the most part, separate and distinct. This dissertation is a study in creating a drama session that follows a creative problem-solving model. The purpose of the study is to conduct a session using drama, specifically Process Drama, and combine it with creative problem-solving, specifically the New Treffinger Model, with the goal of testing the feasibility and desirability of this union.

Process Drama is a form of drama that is designed for the benefit of participants and not for performance. It is based in improvisation and led by a trained leader. Creative problem-solving is a format used for developing solutions to problems that are not readily solvable by conventional means, usually following a model of stages and led by a trained facilitator.

I believe that participants in a Process Drama session can learn to solve a problem following a specific state-of-the-art creative problem-solving model. Donald J. Treffinger, Scott G. Isaksen and K. Brian Dorval describe this model in their book. Creative Problem Solving: An Introduction, 3rd Edition.

The research method used for this project is a type of qualitative research known as Action Research; one of its primary goals is to assist the researcher in finding ways to improve his own methods. Teachers often use Action Research in education where their own teaching methods can be the focus of the inquiry. Since refining my teaching is a goal of this project, I deemed this methodology best for developing a lesson plan, implementing it, and charting the results.

I designed a Process Drama session that included the steps of the Treffinger model. I randomly selected participants by seeking volunteers through signs posted around the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. I collected the data by observation, written survey, director's notes, oral discussion, and video tape.

The results showed that it is possible to design such a drama session. The participants were able to engage themselves in the drama and simultaneously incorporate the stages of the Treffinger model, but not without direction from the facilitator. I was encouraged to incorporate these techniques into my own teaching and to further explore possible uses for this combination activity. This subject of this dissertation is a successful first step in combining these two methods.