Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD


With the economic collapse of 2008, there has been a dramatic increase in government emphasis on the value of science and technology-based study in the nation’s high schools as a means for the United States to remain competitive in the world economic market. Financial, political and societal support for the hard sciences, coupled with evertightening budget restrictions for education, have contributed to the devaluing, underfunding, and elimination of the performing arts as a viable and valued academic pursuit (Whitman, 2011). The arts play an important role in secondary school education, developing a broad range of widely applicable social and organizational skills that strengthen a student’s ability to pursue any course of study, while fulfilling the recent emphasis on 21st century skills. This study documents a theater design curriculum and the experiences of a sample group of students who have completed two to four years enrolled in this project-based performing arts program in a Northern California public secondary school. The literature supports the theory that the 21st century skills of creative problem solving and collaboration, crucial to success in today’s global society, are effectively developed through project-based arts curricula. High school students in a theater arts class were asked to reflect upon their experiences in a theatrical design process. Findings indicate that students developed and refined a method for collaboration and could articulate that process in a discussion about their experience.

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