Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)
School of Education
Rose Mary Mautino
Ruth G. Biro
adolescent literacy, aliteracy, middle school, reading, reluctant readers, sixth grade reading, theater, Theatre for Young Audiences
With the current disenchantment toward reading literature among adolescents, this study explored if an Artistic Director of a Theatre for Young Audiences could lead the transformation of aliterate, sixth grade "reluctant readers" into becoming engaged readers of literature? These students have the basic skills to read, but choose not to read for a variety of reasons. The study used the intervention of specific, collaborative theatrical strategies, which are alternative approaches to traditional middle school reading pedagogy. The strategies included rehearsal techniques, organizing small group "Production Teams," preparing for and experiencing a theatrical adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, and actively involving "reluctant readers" in the creation of an original one-act play that reflects their process of becoming engaged readers. A question of the study asked if educators could transform the pervasive negative attitudes of "reluctant readers" toward reading literature and revive their motivation so they find enjoyment and relevancy in literature assigned in school. To accomplish the transformation, the study selected two groups of culturally diverse adolescents and their teachers. As Theatre for Young Audiences was a significant component, the dissertation follows a format of acts and scenes. Each scene addresses an assertion and contains a series of experiences designed to guide and examine the students' progress while reading the text. Creating "Production Teams," which lasted for the duration of the four month study, helped to reveal information and build anticipation of seeing A Wrinkle in Time by Prime Stage Theatre. With the performance, the Artistic Director was able to assess how Theatre for Young Audiences affects students' learning, comprehension, enjoyment, and engagement with unfamiliar works of literature. By collaborating on the creation of an original one-act play, the students were able to relate their individual experiences as adolescent "reluctant readers". Adaptations of motivational surveys, journal prompts, discussions, and observations challenged and affirmed research findings about adolescent readers. The study demonstrated the power of theatre and literature, and if alternative methods could transform "reluctant readers" into engaged readers.
Brinda, W. (2004). Bringing literature to life for sixth grade "reluctant readers": A collaborative, participatory study using Theatre for Young Audiences experiences to address aliteracy (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/349