Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Dance education"
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Illuminating Invisibility: A Qualitative Study of Dancers with Learning Disabilities in Higher Education Dance ProgramsEnactment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 expanded and clarified the rights of students with disabilities in higher education (Connor, 2011; Pena, 2014; Troiano, 2003). In the past three decades, the enrollment rate of students with learning disabilities (LD) in higher education has tripled. However, the magnitude and quality of scholarship addressing the experiences of students with disabilities (including LD) does not reflect this exponential shift. While existing literature addresses dancers with physical and developmental disabilities (Kuppers, 2004; Sandahl & Auslander, 2005; Whatley, 2007, 2008) and children with learning disabilities (Cone & Cone, 2011), research on dancers with learning disabilities in postsecondary settings is nil. Research that includes the voices of identifying dancers with learning disabilities in higher education is necessary in order to discover more effective pathways and approaches to interventions and learning strategies. This qualitative study examines the perceptions of six dance majors and minors with learning disabilities (LD) in higher education dance programs from five universities located in the New York/New Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania and Midwest regions of the United States. The purpose of the study is to privilege the voices and perspectives of an underrepresented population in dance in order to illuminate challenges, learning strategies, and experienced meanings within creating, learning, and performing dance in higher education. Qualitative sources of data include in-person interviews, non-participant observations, and participant reflective journals. Several rounds of coding and data analysis generated a multifaceted and nuanced portrait of six dancers with LDs’ challenges, strategies, and experienced meanings, both individual and composite, in higher education dance. Several described self-determined approaches through agentic acts of learning individualized to their unique LDs. For all dancers, emotional states undergirded challenges, strategies, and relationality in higher education dance. Further, descriptions of visibility, acceptance, and affirmation by peers and instructors in technique and composition classrooms illuminated the value of relational authenticity for these dancers. Research findings suggest areas in need of reformed practices while also illuminating extant teaching practices that effectively meet the needs of students, including the transparent integration of ameliorative strategies into higher education dance. Findings related to emotional challenges point to the importance of emotional support as a priority in higher education dance programs, a need that I suggest has become increasingly critical for all university dance students during this period of global pandemic. The study offers insight into the ways dance in higher education can be more accessible and inclusive by privileging the authority of the individual student and enabling authentic engagement with self and a broader relationality to different others.
Researching First-Year Students' Lived Experiences in a University Dance ProgramSince the mid-1970s, researchers in student development theory, research, and practice have examined the experiences of first-year university students with the aim of improving quality of educational life and student motivation to stay in school (Greenfield et al., 2013). First-year students are viewed as vulnerable to attrition as most leavers depart during or immediately following year one (van der Zanden et al., 2018). This is the first doctoral study to explore first-year experience with university Dance majors.The purpose of this study is to illuminate first-year experience in a postsecondary Dance setting through students’ first-person accounts. Research methodology was guided by the applied phenomenology of education scholar and philosopher Max van Manen (1990/2014) and involved my direct participation and observation in two Dance classrooms along with in-depth interviewing of six self-selected students over the entire academic year. Data gathered through these procedures were analyzed for collective and individual meanings. Students’ first-person perspectives are presented in four chapters representing four macro-categories of student experience found in the data: curriculum, faculty, peers, and individual practice. Findings are then discussed in relation to extant literature in student development in higher education, combining sociological, behavioral, and epistemological perspectives from the foundational theories of Vincent Tinto (1975/1993), Alexander Astin (1984/1999), and William G. Perry, Jr. (1968/1999). Students’ first-person experiential accounts extend concepts from these theories, as well as offering insights unique to dance education. From their lived experiences in university Dance, first-year students shared the educational experiences that were significant and meaningful to their learning and growth. These include the affective, cognitive, somatic, and social meanings they made from their experiences of curriculum, faculty, peers, and self. Within a web of academic and social supports, personal self-reflection, and individual meaning-making, first-year students deepened their understandings of their dance practices and of themselves as dance artists and learners.