29 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session - NW 29
General Poster Session
One of the most difficult skills for future teachers is learning how to move away from structured routines and lead disciplined improvisation in education where the students partially guide the direction of the class (Sawyer, 2004, 12). According to Keith Johnstone (1981) “there are people who prefer to say ´Yes´, and there are people who prefer to say ´No´. Those who say ´Yes´ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ´No` are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more ´No´ sayers around than `Yes´ sayers, but you can train one type to behave like the other.” According to Toivonen, Komulainen and Ruismäki (2011) the student teachers find it hard to break out from the scripted teaching. However, through drama work and improvisational exercises also these kinds of interaction skills can be rehearsed (Toivonen et al. 2011).
Improvisation is not just a style or acting technique; it is a dynamic principle operating in many different spheres, an independent and transformative way of being, knowing and doing (Frost & Yarrow 2016, 3). Transactional improvisation helps actors to understand their interactions with others and to break out of habitual patterns (Moseley 2005, 21). Improvisation has been used in various context and is also widely studied in the context of arts like jazz music (Berliner 2009), dance (Carter 2000) and most of all in acting and theatre - but also used as a pedagogical method (Toivonen et al. 2011).
According to Frost and Yarrow (2007) improvisation can be defined “as a skill of using bodies, space, all human resources, to generate a coherent physical expression of an idea, a situation, a character (even, perhaps, a text); to do this spontaneously, in response to the immediate stimuli of one´s environment, and to do it à l´improviste: as through taken by surprise, without preconceptions” (Frost & Yarrow 2007, 1). Frost and Yarrow (2007) describe more detailed the working techniques of improvisation. They divide the working techniques in preparation, working together, moving towards performance and the applied improvisation work.
Working methods of improvisation cause very often spontaneous laughter. According to Mora-Ripoll (2010, 56) “laughter has shown physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits”. Laughter has said to be therapeutic. There are two types of laughter - the one which is triggered by an external factor and the one which can be caused by will. The human brain is not making any difference between these two and the benefit of laughter is the same in both cases (see Mora-Ripoll 2010).
Thayer and Lane (2009) have suggested that there are connections between the brain and heart which can be direct and indirect. The link between brain and heart is the pneumogastric nerve (vagus nerve). Thayer and Lane propose that there is a relationship HRV (heart rate variability) and physiological, cognitive, and emotional regulation functions. They also emphasize the skill of emotional regulation and its´ effect on individuals´ health (see Thayer & Lane 2009).
The sociocultural perspective implies that the entire classroom is improvising together; and it holds that the most effective learning results when the classroom proceeds in an open, improvisational fashion, as children are allowed to experiment, interact, and participate in the collaborative construction of their own knowledge. In improvisational teaching, learning is a shared social activity, and is collectively managed by all participants, not only the teacher (Baker-Senett & Matusov 1997, 204).
This study is located in the field of drama education and it is part of the doctoral thesis. This study aims to clear out the psychophysiological states that the student is facing while participating the working methods of improvisation.
The present study was implemented during the improvisation course. The student teachers chose improvisation for the topic over the feedback session of the previous drama course. During the improvisation course, there were two facilitating teachers which were working with the groups. Both of the teachers were experienced theatre teachers and actors. In practice, the other facilitator was in charge the first two days and the other during the last three. Improvisation course consisted of the fundamental improvisation exercises: warm-up -exercises, status-exercises, confidence-exercises, contact improvisation, reaction, approval, denial and emotional expression (see Frost and Yarrow 1990). In this study, there were 3 groups of students in teacher education from the Savonlinna campus of the University of Eastern Finland. 63 student participated in the study. 13 volunteer were selected to participate in the HRV-research. The data was collected during the lessons. The course consisted of 2 times 2 hours of functional lecture and 4 times 3 hours of demonstrative lessons and one performance for the peers. This qualitative research aims to clarify the psychophysiological impact that the students are having during improvisation. In this study, the data was collected with Polar GoFit- and Polar ProTeam Heart Rate monitors combined with stress questionnaires and self-reports of students´ hopes and fears which will be content analyzed. Students HRVs and emotions will be viewed based on the made exercises. Polar GoFit Heart Rate has been widely used in research in human science, especially researching the stress. (see Taelman et al., 2008; Ruotsalainen et al., 2015.) Polar GoFit is operated via iPad application. The application requires information about participants age, length and weight. Heart Rate data will be analyzed with a cardiologist. In addition to HRV and emotion self-reports, the students were asked to report their expectations and fears before the improvisation course. During the feedback session the students were asked to answer an e-inquiry which consisted questions of fears they had before the course, benefits of the course, the influence of the course connected to the group, the influence of the improvisation to one´s body and mind and how the performing for the audience was experienced. The aim of this study is to find out what kind of influences the working methods of improvisation had on individuals’ body and mind. 55 students replied to the questionnaire.
Based on the preliminary results the students seemed to have fear for improvisation because they connected the working method to being on stage, performing and entertaining. Fear was caused by the thought of getting anxious, being and freezing on stage, throwing oneself, and thought of improvisation itself as a working method. Also, social context caused fear as well as possible stress connected to schedules and extra work, complexity, and chaos of working. Students were also scared that they would get forced to do something. When describing the fear the students wrote about the emotions. The students were especially afraid of getting anxious. Also, based on the preliminary results, the connection between the certain improvisation exercises and the HRV and reported emotions was found. We argue that this study describe, how the students psychophysically experience the improvisation as a working method. Students´ experiences also may give information how the improvisation could be implemented to teacher training. Improvisation as a working method may offer a space to face emotions - also negative, like fear and anxiety - in a safe environment guided by a professional facilitator. Improvisation could be considered as a method to rehearse challenging situations in a that is also needed in teachers´ daily work.
Baker-Sennett, J. & Matusov, E. (1997). School “performance”: Improvisational processes in development and education. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.) Creativity in Performance (pp. 197-212). Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Berliner, P., F. (2009). Thinking in jazz: The infinite art of improvisation. University of Chicago Press. Carter, C., L. (2000). Improvisation in Dance. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58(2), 181-190. Frost, A. & Yarrow, R. (2007). Improvisation in Drama. New York: Houndmills. Johnstone, K. (1981). Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre. London: Methuen. Mora-Ripoll, R. (2010). The therapeutic value of laughter in medicine. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 16(6), 56-64. Moseley, N. (2005). Acting and reacting: Tools for the modern actor. MIT Press. Thayer, J. F. & Lane, R. D. (2009). Claude Bernard and the heart–brain connection: Further elaboration of a model of neurovisceral integration. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 33(2), 81-88. Ruotsalainen, H., Kyngäs, H., Tammelin, T., Heikkinen, H. & Kääriäinen, M. (2015). Effectiveness of Facebook-Delivered Lifestyle Counselling and Physical Activity Self-Monitoring on Physical Activity and Body Mass Index in Overweight and Obese Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Nursing Research and Practice, vol. 2015. DOI:10.1155/2015/159205 Sawyer, K. (2004). Creative Teaching: Collaborative Discussion as Disciplined Improvisation. Educational Researcher, 33(2), 12–20. Toivonen, Komulainen & Ruismäki (2011). Drama education and improvisation as a resource of teacher student's creativity. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 12, 60-69. DOI.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.02.010
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