Purpose, Power, Position: Border crossing between science and drama through Mantle of the Expert

Carrie Swanson


This presentation reports on emergent findings from my doctoral study investigating the use of Mantle of the Expert (Heathcote & Bolton, 1995) to address concerns with student science engagement, achievement, and non-pursuance of science based careers.

In this study, I co-taught with the classroom teacher, for two afternoons a week, over a term in 2011, with a class of 27 Year 7/8 students. During the unit the students were enrolled as expert scientists, commissioned to revisit the science behind the sinking of the Wahine. The data collected included: student’s pre and post assessments, audio recording, teacher and eight representative student interviews, classroom artefacts and work conducted whilst using dramatic participant conventions. Data was analysed thematically, and statistically.

The effect of positioning students as expert in purposeful contexts, is discussed in terms of its contribution to student engagement, agency and student learning of science concepts, through three classroom examples. 


Applied drama; ELT, ESL/EFL; creative teaching; reflective practice

Full Text: Video

DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i1.187


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015