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Centre for Urban Schooling

Urban School Performances (USP): The Interplay, through Live and Digital Drama, of Local-Global Knowledge about Urban Education


Project Timeline: 2008 – 2011
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Kathleen Gallagher
CUS Graduate Assistant(s): Burcu Yaman Ntelioglou, Anne Wessels, Ivan Service, 
                                             Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, Art Babyants, Alex Means
International Collaborators: Dr. Christina Marín (Emerson College, Boston, MA, USA), Dr. Urvashi Sahni (The Study Hall Educational Foundation, India) Dr. Su Chien-ling (Ming-chuan University, Taipei), Dr. Yu-Hsuan Lin (Nanhua University, Department of Applied Sociology and Graduate Institute of Sociology of Education, Taiwan) 

This academic year has been a very productive one for Urban School Performances. It was a year of qualitative and quantitative data collection, analysis and coding, dissemination and publication of articles, and continuing experimentation with digital platforms. The data that were collected from the local sites in Toronto during Year Two of the project are being analysed and coded using Atlas software. The data collected from Year Three are being transcribed in preparation for coding.

The on-going work at the Middleview research site in Toronto has produced new data from work that began as Verbatim theatre but developed into a performance of personal monologues, inspired by the Verbatim theatre play created by Project: Humanity, The Middle Place, that the students saw at Theatre Passe Muraille in the fall of 2010.

To continue our exploration of the intersection of performance and youth, we conducted interviews with audience members fresh from seeing The Middle Place at both Theatre Passe Muraille in October 2010 and at Canadian Stage in March 2011. We conducted seventy-five interviews with youth and adult members of the audience, focusing on questions concerning theatre as a medium of social commentary and intervention on cultural representations of youth. Continuing the exploration of digital platforms, the team collaborated with video editor Gail Mentlik, to create a short video representing Year Three research conducted in both the school and theatre sites.

Regarding quantitative data collection, we made use of SurveyMonkey that allowed us to easily export data to SPSS for analysis. The purpose of the two surveys was to quantitatively explore factors associated with student engagement in challenging educational contexts around the world. A mixed-methods approach was used to embed the surveys within the existing qualitative agenda of the study in order to extend, inform, and deepen our understanding of what motivates student learning. Survey 1 was completed once on-line by youth participants and included incorporated scales related to motivation and student engagement (predictor variables) to correlate with various aspects of school and social life: academic participation, school involvement, activities outside of school (e.g. caring for self and others, academics, civic involvement, socializing, religious activities, and entertainment), and school subject preferences (outcome variables). This questionnaire also included demographic questions. Survey 2 was completed 'live' in class and was designed to assess how students felt immediately following a drama class that the teacher assessed as particularly engaging for the students. Likert scales (rating how you feel on a scale of one to five) allowed students to rate how they felt about a series of statements (items) presented to them (strongly disagree to strongly agree). This survey differed from the online version as it encouraged students to reflect on their experience within a specific drama class instead of responding to generalized items in the online version. 

This year has seen the publication of four new articles in peer-reviewed journals and one book chapter. Recently, one more article has been submitted for consideration. The USP team has also given six conference presentations over the last year.

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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