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