Y. Zhao, B.K. Iwana

Kyushu University (JAPAN)
Recently, there has been a shift in education style from teacher-centered to student-centered systems. In addition, the need for social interactions and communication skills has increased. Based on this, in 2010, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) of Japan created the Communication Education Promotion Committee to introduce active learning and the drama method educational styles to Japan. In this way, students actively foster communication skills. The aim of this study is to investigate the drama approach as an innovative method to teach through by engaging participants in drama activities. This study presents the results of a case study about using the drama approach to develop communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills along with building interpersonal relationships

The drama approach method is an educational practice that engages in interactive learning in a group setting. The activities used in the drama method include verbal and gesture-based interactions and a skit-based presentation. These activities provide opportunities for participants to share ideas and understanding. In this study, we implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the drama approach method in a primary school.

The study was held at a public primary school in Fukuoka prefecture, Japan. Four grade 6 classes participated in the activities with a total of 128 student participants. The activity spanned three class periods of 50 minutes each for a total of 150 minutes. The study was instructed by trained experts of the drama approach method.

A post-class survey was provided to the students and there was an effective response rate of 95%. The survey consisted of three demographic questions, 18 rating scale questions, and one free response question. The survey was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the drama approach class and the feelings of the students.

In order to analyze the responses, we used factor analysis and correlation analysis on the rating scale questions and text mining on the free response question. The results of the survey were generally positive. The factor analysis revealed that there were three significant factors:
(1) creative expression,
(2) internal growth, and
(3) cooperation.

Cooperation had the highest average response. From the text mining, we also found that “fun” was the most common word and it had a high co-occurrence with “make,” “thinking”, and “drama.” This indicates that the activities were enjoyable. The findings also found that the activities created opportunities for communication, cooperation, and friendship development. The findings of this study are expected to contribute to the adaptation of the drama approach into primary school curricula, both in Japan and internationally.