Pre service teacher, novice teacher, expert teacher, improvisation, improv, improvisational performance, inclusive classrooms, children with disabilities, exceptional student education (ese), exceptional education, nonverbal children, empathy, affective instructional strategy, interpersonal skills, teacher communication, teacher child interaction, teacher child relationships, teacher self efficacy, instructional design and development research, addie, improvisation training, in flight decision making, novice expert, arts based research, simulated mastery, playback theater, interactive theater, affective instruction, extemporaneous communication, affective communication, disciplined improvisation, drama based instruction, teacher training, mixed methods research, qualitative research, teacher sense of efficacy scale (tses), yes, and..., vocal prosody, nonverbal communication, teacher immediacy, emotional mirroring, teacher attrition, embodied cognition, constructivism, interactive instructional strategy, classroom management, co teaching, spontaneity, teacher agency, positive classroom climate, interaction, rapport, frustration in learning, english language learners (ell), social intelligence, emotional intelligence


Improvisation is a construct that uses a set of minimal heuristic guidelines to create a highly flexible scaffold that fosters extemporaneous communication. Scholars from diverse domains: such as psychology, business, negotiation, and education have suggested its use as a method for preparing professionals to manage complexity and think on their feet. A review of the literature revealed that while there is substantial theoretical scholarship on using improvisation in diverse domains, little research has verified these assertions. This dissertation evaluated whether improvisation, a specific type of dramatic technique, was effective for training pre-service teachers in specific characteristics of teacher-child classroom interaction, communication and affective skills development. It measured the strength and direction of any potential changes such training might effect on pre-service teacher’s self-efficacy for teaching and for implementing the communication skills common to improvisation and teaching while interacting with student in an inclusive classroom setting. A review of the literature on teacher self-efficacy and improvisation clarified and defined key terms, and illustrated relevant studies. This study utilized a mixed-method research design based on instructional design and development research. Matched pairs ttests were used to analyze the self-efficacy and training skills survey data and pre-service teacher reflections and interview transcripts were used to triangulate the qualitative data. Results of the t-tests showed a significant difference in participants’ self-efficacy for teaching measured before and after the improvisation training. A significant difference in means was also measured in participants’ aptitude for improvisation strategies and for self-efficacy for their implementation pre-/post- training. Qualitative results from pre-service teacher class iv artifacts and interviews showed participants reported beneficial personal outcomes as well as confirmed using skills from the training while interacting with students. Many of the qualitative themes parallel individual question items on the teacher self-efficacy TSES scale as well as the improvisation self-efficacy scale CSAI. The self-reported changes in affective behavior such as increased self-confidence and ability to foster positive interaction with students are illustrative of changes in teacher agency. Self-reports of being able to better understand student perspectives demonstrate a change in participant ability to empathize with students. Participants who worked with both typically developing students as well as with students with disabilities reported utilizing improvisation strategies such as Yes, and…, mirroring emotions and body language, vocal prosody and establishing a narrative relationship to put the students at ease, establish a positive learning environment, encourage student contributions and foster teachable moments. The improvisation strategies showed specific benefit for participants working with nonverbal students or who had commutation difficulties, by providing the pre-service teachers with strategies for using body language, emotional mirroring, vocal prosody and acceptance to foster interaction and communication with the student. Results from this investigation appear to substantiate the benefit of using improvisation training as part of a pre-service teacher methods course for preparing teachers for inclusive elementary classrooms. Replication of the study is encouraged with teachers of differing populations to confirm and extend results.


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Graduation Date





Hines, Rebecca


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Instructional Technology








Release Date

December 2013

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

Becker_Theresa_C_201212_PhD_1of1.jpeg (2325 kB)
Figure 1: Commonalities Between Improvisation and Teaching

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