Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education

DOWNLOAD the Policy Paper and the Education Resource , the output documents of DICE now!

DICE (“Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education”) was an international EU-supported project. In addition to other educational aims, this two-year project was a cross-cultural research study investigating the effects of educational theatre and drama on five of the eight Lisbon Key Competences.  The research was conducted by twelve partners (leader: Hungary, partners: Czech Republic, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom). All members are highly regarded nationally and internationally and represent a wide variety of formal and non-formal sectors of education. Educational theatre and drama practitioners have believed in the efficacy of their work for a long time, but until now it has rarely been measured with scientific tools. In the DICE project, several dozen educational theatre and drama practitioners from twelve countries, with the widest theoretical and professional background, have allied forces with academics (psychologists and sociologists), to measure the impact of educational theatre and drama.

The objectives of the project were:

  • To demonstrate with cross-cultural quantitative and qualitative research that educational theatre and drama is a powerful tool to improve the Lisbon Key Competences. The research was conducted with almost five thousand young people aged 13-16 years.
  • To publish a Policy Paper based on the research, and disseminate it among educational and cultural stakeholders at the European, national, and local levels worldwide.
  • To create an Education Resource – a publication for schools, educators and arts practitioners about the different practices of educational theatre and drama. To disseminate this pack at the European, national, and local levels worldwide.
  • To compare theatre and drama activities in education in different countries and help the transfer of know-how between experts.
  • To hold conferences in the partner countries in order to disseminate the results of the project, as well as a conference in Brussels to disseminate the first main results to key EU leaders in the relevant areas of arts, culture, education and youth.

Our hypothesis was that educational theatre and drama has an impact on five of the eight “Lisbon Key Competences.”
We examined the following five out of the eight Key Competences:
1.    Communication in the mother tongue
2.    Learning to learn
3.    Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences, civic competence
4.    Entrepreneurship
5.    Cultural expression
Furthermore, we believe that there is a competence not mentioned among the Key Competences, which is the universal competence of what it is to be human. We have called this competence “All this and more”, and included it in the discussion of the research results.
These six are life-long learning skills and competences necessary for the personal development of young people, their future employment, and active European citizenship.

The key outcomes of the project are the Education Resource and the Policy Paper, and hopefully also a long series of publications of the detailed research results in future years, beyond the scope of the project.

The innovative aspect of the project is that this is the first research to demonstrate connections between theatre and drama activities in education and the Lisbon Key Competences, with the added value that the research results will be widely shared with the relevant communities and stakeholders. As many of the competences have rarely or never been examined before in cross-cultural studies, we also had to invent and develop new measurement tools that might be useful in the future for other educational areas. Besides some newly developed questionnaires for children, teachers, theatre and drama practitioners and external assessors, we devised a toolkit for the independent objective observation of educational theatre and drama classes. All materials used were identical in all twelve countries, and therefore are applicable in any culture.

The ethos underpinning the DICE project has been developed by the practice of the research project itself. It reflects our own learning, the spirit of our collaboration and the ongoing process we are engaged in through educational theatre and drama. We do not claim to be an absolute authority on the theory and practice of educational drama and theatre. We are a group of artist educators and arts education pedagogues who came together because we hold some fundamental values in common that underpin the work that we do. Principal among them is a commitment to nurture and develop the young; as drama educators and practitioners we work with young people and train others to do so. We proceed from the premise that children and young people are not undeveloped adults but human beings who have rights, should be treated justly and given equality of opportunity.

DICE is not only a two-year-long project, but rather a journey and an enterprise that has just started with this research. In the past two years several hundred people have been working with us, from peer volunteers to members of National Academies of Science. For some of us, this project has been one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, task of our professional career, something from which we could learn significantly.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

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