Identity: Is Theatre an Asset in Dealing with Hard-to-Reach Youth?

By Brenda Elizabeth Munro, Jan Selman, Shaniff Esmail and Jane Heather.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The use of theatre in sex education was analyzed drawing on identity style research and theory. A multiple method approach using questionnaires and focus groups of adolescent boys and girls in the 9th grade was completed to determine if identity theory is useful in detecting self-reported growth in sexual decision making and boundary setting when students were involved with an interactive play and workshop called Are We There Yet? A diffuse-avoidance identity style was associated with lower self-reported enjoyment of the play but higher self-reported growth in areas of sexual decision making and boundary setting. Youth who were information seeking reported greater enjoyment of the play and significant growth in areas of sexual decision making and boundary setting. In contrast, Normative youth did not have a more or less positive experience with the play than other groups but showed less growth in the areas of sexual decision making and boundary setting than other groups. The discussion briefly explores the findings that support a general theatre theory in relation to identity theory as related to promotion of teens’ sexual health. Limitations of the study are noted.

Keywords: Youth, Sexual Decision Making, Identity Types

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp.101-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.305MB).

Dr. Brenda Elizabeth Munro

Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Brenda Munro is a professor in the Department of Human Ecology. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of intimate relationships and youth at risk. Her current research projects include work with homeless youth and theatre the use of interactive theatre in working with youth who are thirteen to fourteen years old. Theoretical perspectives that have been applied in this research are identity development and attachment theory.

Jan Selman

Professor, Department of Drama,, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Jan Selman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta and Principal Investigator for the Are We There Yet? interdisciplinary research program. Her career includes theatre directing and facilitation of many community-based theatre projects. Based in this work, she co-wrote the book Popular Theatre in Political Culture: Britain and Canada in Focus (Intellect) with Tim Prentki. Recent publications can be found in Routledge’s Applied Theatre Reader, Convergence and the Adult Education Quarterly.

Dr. Shaniff Esmail

Associate Chair and Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Shaniff Esmail PhD., MSc OT © - Associate Chair, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, U of A. Sessional instructor, Department of Human Ecology, Family Studies, U of A; Private consultant Lifestyle Resources Consultants; Board member for Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health; Teaching interests include; communication, group interaction, sexuality and assessment/intervention. Research interests include couple relationships, sexuality and disability sexuality education programs for children with disabilities, international development and work evaluation.

Jane Heather

Assistant Professor, Department of Drama, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


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