Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Suresh Appavoo EdD


Not all students are willing to participate actively in a drama class. Most studies about drama and participation focus on the use of drama in other academic disciplines, and there is a lack of information about students’ participation within the drama classroom. This study examines the role that students’ experiences and expectations play in their educational outcomes in drama class. Students from two beginning drama classes at a public high school participated in this study. They were introduced to a short unit on social theater and on Augusto Boal’s Forum Theater. Throughout this unit students responded to journal prompts addressing their perceived levels of participation in the class, perceived levels of difficulty and enjoyment, and their perceptions of others’ opinions about drama. In addition, a series of three focus group interviews was held with students from both of the classes, to explore in greater depth similar questions to the journal prompts. This study found that the experiences and expectations that students bring to a drama class have an impact on their learning outcomes in a drama class, including students’ willingness to participate; their willingness to take risks; and the effect of reluctant students on overall class participation. Understanding the expectations that students bring to a drama classroom can help teachers ease students’ transitions from classes requiring lower levels of engagement to the active participation required in a drama class.