CreATE Research Group
Stakeholder Workshop: Involving Practitioners in Research Project
One of the aims of the John Fell Fund project that our group is running at the moment (focusing on using drama to improve the oral language skills of children with EAL), is to engage stakeholders (i.e., researchers and practitioners) in the design of research. Partnering with stakeholders allows research to be usable and useful - two features that are important in general, but even more so in the case of a classroom-based intervention.
To this end, we decided to hold a stakeholder workshop, the aim of which was to ask researchers and practitioners to co-design the project with us. The workshop took place on 12th December 2022. Despite the adverse weather, and the fact that the event was scheduled for the last week of school, we had an enthusiastic group of participants - including researchers, teachers, and drama professionals - joining us for an afternoon of fruitful discussion on the design of our drama intervention.
The workshop started with Dr Faidra Faitaki (Project PI) providing participants with an overview of the project. She explained that there are numerous teaching resources and a firm societal belief that drama can facilitate (second) language development, but research on the effectiveness of the approach is limited. She argued that the proposed project aims to fill this gap: thus, it includes a systematic review that aims to uncover the extent and nature of the literature on the topic, as well as the creation and piloting of drama materials that could then be used for a prospective large-scale intervention.
After the presentation, participants were asked to share their views on three questions: (1) Within the scope of oral language, and with EAL learners in mind, do you think the project should have a broad language focus (e.g., receptive vocabulary), and/or a specific linguistic focus (e.g., emotion words)? (2) What aspects of oral language do you consider the most challenging to teach (to EAL children and in general), useful to develop (for EAL children and in general), and feasible to work on using drama-based activities? (3) What resources would you need to prepare for using oral language drama-based activities with your learners (e.g., training, materials, something else)?
The discussion, which was co-ordinated by Dr Sophie Liggins (Project RA), offered unique insights for our project. For instance, the stakeholders suggested opting for a broad language focus (that could give rise to varied activities), rather than a specific language focus (which would, potentially, not empower all teachers to incorporate drama into their classrooms in the long run).
The stakeholders' thoughts and opinions will be instrumental for informing the design of the drama sessions. Thus, we are grateful to the participants for being generous with their time and suggestions which helped steer the project to an exciting, implementable and meaningful direction. We are now ready to move to the next stage of the project: the creation of materials for and piloting of the drama sessions! So, do watch this space for exciting updates!