The effect of drama-based instruction on PreK - 16 outcomes : a meta-analysis of research from 1985-2012
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In May 2011, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) released their report, “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future through Creative Schools.” The PCAH heartily supported arts integration as an effective and cost efficient way to address teachers’ and students’ needs, referring to arts integration as “the most significant innovation in the field over the last two decades…” (2011). In the report, however, the PCAH called for a better understanding of the dimensions of quality and best practices—when, for whom, and what content areas are best served by arts integration methods. They called for research to clarify evidence on arts integration, not only as it relates to math and English standards but also as it relates to essential 21st century skills: creativity, critical thinking and collaboration (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009). One promising arts integration method is drama-based instruction. In the last twenty-five years, there have been numerous research studies assessing the effectiveness of integrating drama-based strategies into academic curriculum. However, we still do not have a clear idea of the overall effectiveness of drama-based instructional strategies and, maybe more important, the conditions under which it is more or less effective. Prior research, including meta-analyses, have produced mixed results. Four previous meta-analyses found contradictory results and drew differing conclusions about moderators including gender and age. Much research has been published since the earlier meta-analyses. This, along with the need to clarify the effectiveness of DBI, warrants an updated review. An initial search of the literature revealed 45 relevant studies since 1985, suggesting that there is indeed sufficient data to support an updated meta-analysis on the effectiveness of drama-based instruction for enhancing student academic achievement and other adaptive academic and social outcomes. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to provide a nuanced understanding of a specific arts integration method—drama-based instruction—and provide critical insight for practitioners regarding how it may be most profitably used in the classroom to benefit students.