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Drama Education: Towards building peer relationships between culturally diverse adolescents

West, Tahnee (2021) Drama Education: Towards building peer relationships between culturally diverse adolescents. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Drama education is increasingly understood as a useful tool to promote social change and cultural awareness. The effects of both positive and negative peer relationships have been researched within the Australian education context. Despite this, relatively little research has been conducted on the intersection of drama education and peer relationships, and even less literature exists on the topic of multicultural peer relationships in drama education—a field that is highly relational in nature.

This action research project addresses the gap in the literature by exploring the following question: In what ways may participating in a drama education program affect the development of peer relationships between culturally diverse young people?

The study explores the challenges and experiences of a group of up to 40 culturally diverse adolescents in forming and maintaining effective peer relationships following an eightweek drama education program held within an informal context. The study reveals an emerging understanding of drama education strategies that work to foster relationship development amongst a culturally diverse student population.

The research findings show a strengthening of young people’s peer relationships through participating in a drama education program. Active observation of participants and data collected in focus groups throughout the program point to developments in participants’ sense of trust, support, tolerance, empathy, familiarity with other participants and enjoyment of cooperative activities. The data also points to a relationship between drama activities and improved conflict resolution and communication skills, and an improved understanding of participants’ diverse cultures.

This study highlights the role a drama education program can play in the social development of culturally diverse young people and indicates the relevance of further research of the intersections between drama education and the development of multicultural adolescent relationships.

Keywords: multicultural, cultural diversity, drama education, peer relationships

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Supervisor(s): Wright, Peter and Pascoe, Robin
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