Using Case Studies in Drama/Theatre Teacher Education: A Process of Bridge Building between Theory and Practice

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Tufts University]On: 08 October 2014, At: 08:39Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Youth Theatre JournalPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uytj20

    Using Case Studies in Drama/Theatre TeacherEducation: A Process of Bridge Building betweenTheory and PracticeLaura A. McCammon , Carole Miller & Joe NorrisPublished online: 08 Jul 2010.

    To cite this article: Laura A. McCammon , Carole Miller & Joe Norris (1997) Using Case Studies in Drama/Theatre TeacherEducation: A Process of Bridge Building between Theory and Practice, Youth Theatre Journal, 11:1, 103-112, DOI:10.1080/08929092.1997.10012486

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  • Using Case Studies in DramdTheatre Teacher Education: A Process of Bridge Building between Theory and Practice

    Laura A. McCammon, Carole Miller, and Joe N o h

    When Ifirst entered the drama room [as I began my student teaching], I hoped I was prepared. I had my lesson plans that I had spent the week- end honing and shaping; I had my unit plans for the entire three months. . . . I had imagined time spent on deep insights, exciting discussions, and guided reflections periods. . . . I wasn 't prepared. I was faced with thirty- two "yakaholics" who didn't give a wit about "deepening their experi- ence" or "bringing their own understanding of the world" to the drama class. There were thirty-two chatterboxes halfof whom only took drama because wood-working was full, or because you had to know how to draw to take art, or because drama was an effortless way to get credit in something. (From "The Class that Wouldn't Stop Talking," a case study written by a drama student teacher.)

    Teacher education is divided not only by the perceived difference between theory and practice, but also by geography. Theory is perceived to take place in teacher education institutions, while practice takes place in the schools. This sep- aration, whether perceived or real, can keep all stakeholders isolated. As a result, teacher educators, student teachers, and cooperating teachers do not always have the opportunity to reflect with and learn from one another. There is a strong need to provide greater opportunities for dialogue among all parties, especially if there is a desire to have a coherent teacher education program.

    The need for student teachers to have experiences in collaborative comrnuni- ties is doubly true for those involved in dramaltheatre teacher education. Theatre practitioners need to collaborate. Playwrights, directors, actors, designers, and technicians work together to produce a common work. Yet, ironically, theatre ed- ucation students often report feeling little connection to either the theatre depart- ment or the faculty of education (Dynak 235-37). Problems often result from the perceived gap between theory and practice that plagues pre-service student cul- tures and the lack of experience that most college of education faculty have with arts education students. Infrastructures need to be found which place teacher ed- ucators, cooperating teachers,' and student teachers as co-partners in this learn- ing process. If pre-service teachers are to learn to teach in a collaborative way, the manner in which they are taught must reflect processes of inclusion and com-

    Laura McCammon is Assistant Professor and Theatre Education Specialist at the Univer- sity of Arizona in Tucson. Carole Miller is an Assistant Professor at the University of Vic- toria in the Faculty of Education where she teaches both elementary and secondary dramahheatre in education courses. Joe Norris is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta teaching courses in Drama Education and Cumculum Theory.

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  • 104 Laura A. McCammon, Carole Miller, and Joe Norris

    munity building. The reading and writing of case studies of practicum experi- ences is one such process that can not only promotepraxis, the integration of the- ory and practice, but can also assist in bridging this gap through collegial dia- logue.

    Lee Shulman first advocated in 1986 the use of cases as teaching tools in teacher preparation. Judith Shulman, in the introduction to her book Case Meth- ods in Teacher Education, summarizes his arguments:

    Case knowledge-a potentially codifiable body of knowledge convey- ing the wisdom of practice-is as essential to the knowledge base of teaching as is the knowledge of principles derived from educational re- search. Case-based teaching provides teachers with opportunities to an- alyze situations and make judgments in the messy world of practice, where principles often appear to conflict with one another and no simple solution is possible. (xiv)

    Case study methods in teacher education have gradually gained wider accep- tance. Cases can provide instances of exemplary practice (Cooper 7), thereby let- ting pre-service and in-service teachers experience and discuss the integration of theory and practice. Some cases can also carry "no presumptions that the case it- self illustrates either exemplary or ineffectual practice" (Mereseth 2). According to Barnett and Tyson, these cases then serve as "narratives designed to promote a discussion of significant issues, portray a variety of teaching strategies and philosophies, and highlight the complexity, rationality and flaws in student think- ing" (2). In addition to promoting reflection on practice, cases are often con- structed specifically to promote problem solving discussions of concern to both pre-service and in-service teachers.

    This project makes use of cases written by the student teachers themselves as they try to analyze and understand their student teaching experiences. Because the cases are written in the first person, they tend to have more power for both the writer and the reader. Miller found that in teacher education classes where narrative case studies are used, spaces are created where lived experiences are shared, uncovered, articulated, interpreted, and reinterpreted. Pre-service teach- ers who experience narrative cases bring to their own practices a polyphony of voices which can enhance early teaching experiences. Teacher educators (e.g., Schubert and Ayers; Connelly and Clandinin) attest to the transformative power of teachers' stories for both the participants and others. These particular narra- tives and the processes used to produce them highlight the value of using case study narratives during peer teaching and student teaching activities.

    A HISTORY

    Initially, Joe Norris, struggling with a way to answer student teachers' "What- do-you-do-when-this-happens?'questions, began using Shulman and Mesa- Baines' case study book Diversity in the Classroom: A Casebook for Teachers and Teacher Educators in his drama methods class at the University of Alberta. His students read and discussed these cases, wrote critiques of them, and used

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  • USING CASES 105

    them as exemplars in the writing of their own case studies. Norris found these cases to be an excellent means of integrating theory and practice as students an- alyzed their own experiences. Case writing further assisted the students in be- coming reflective practitioners (Schon) by providing a tool for self-examination. They also produced valuable data for class discussions.

    The success of Norris' case study project led two other professors, Carole Miller and Laura McCammon, to begin sharing the cases with their students at the University of Victoria and the University of Arizona. These three teacher ed- ucators used the pool of cases as reading and discussion requirements for present methods students. The methods students were asked to write critiques of a case, drawing implications to guide their

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