Wendy Mages: Theatre-in-Education, Language, and Perspective Taking in Early Childhood Education

This mixed-methods study investigates the effect of a preschool theatre-in-education (TIE) program on the perspective-taking and emergent literacy skills of preschool children.

At the nexus of three disciplines— educational theatre and drama, language development, and cognitive development—this mixed-methods study investigates the effect of a preschool theatre-in-education (TIE) program on the perspective-taking and emergent literacy skills of 155 preschool children. This research combines quantitative assessments of children’s language, theory of mind, and imagination skills with a qualitative descriptive analysis of the implementation of a theatre-in-education program to investigate the effect of a respected early childhood TIE program on the development of 155 urban children enrolled in Head Start, a US government program for preschoolers from low-income families. This presentation will include a discussion of instrument modifications to enhance the evaluative potential of future drama research and intervention modifications to maximize the efficacy of the drama intervention.

Wendy K. Mages earned a master’s and a doctoral degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a master’s degree in Theatre from Northwestern University. Prior to joining the faculty at Mercy College, she taught graduate and undergraduate students at Boston University and at Harvard. In addition to her work with adults, she has designed and taught a preschool performing arts program, worked as a museum educator, and wrote and performed for children’s television. Her research, which focuses on the effect of drama and theatre on language, cognitive, and social development, has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including the Review of Educational Research, Research in Drama Education, Youth Theatre Journal, International Journal of Education & the Arts, and Early Chil

Tegan is a strong advocate for the development of Theatre and the Arts in community settings and has been involved with numerous Applied Theatre programmes throughout her professional training and experience. Tegan graduated with a Master of Arts with Distinction in Applied Theatre from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has professional experience in Community Performance that promotes Young People’s expression and engagement through Puppetry and Theatre practices. As well as collaborating and performing with ERTH Visual & Physical Inc and Welsh theatre company PuppetSoup, she has co-directed and worked alongside Shop Front Arts Co-Op Junior Ensemble of 8-14-year old’s to create the original devised production, The Unknown. Tegan is currently working as Teaching Artist for Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘School Drama’. This is a Teachers Professional Development Program designed to improve teaching and learning by modelling the use of drama-based strategies with quality children's literature.