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Doctoral thesis about drama suitable for special education and care

Tuula Pulli's doctoral thesis "The Real and the Illusory. Drama as a means of community-based rehabilitation and experience for persons with severe learning and speech disabilities." (in Finnish) was confirmed on 27 March 2010 at the University of Jyväskylä. The doctoral thesis includes a summary in English (pages 194-200).

Short Abstract

Research on drama work among non-speech persons with cognitive, functional and interaction impairments is scarce. This pilot study describes a type of drama suitable for special education and care, in which daily care providers step into a sensory story with their disabled pairs. Participants focus their attention on a shared target and gain shared involvement. They get embodied knowledge in space and time. The research explores the conceptual basis for this empowering drama type, experiences of practical drama sessions, particularly their rehabilitative features. By linking drama education, special education, and logopedics with critical pedagogy, the researcher implements an abductive and theory-linked content analysis. Using a hermeneutic approach, she proposes a model, the main categories of which are Beauty, Partnership, and Understanding. These correspond to the drama experience categories of Lived experience, Involvement, and Comprehension. The 70-concept model is used to evaluate the empirical data (twelve 90-minute drama sessions with 16 caretakers and 16 disabled adults, divided into four groups). The questionnaires, group interviews, and video recordings are explored and interpreted within the conceptual model. As a result, the researcher suggests a practical application for the model. Drama seems to promote awareness, proto imagination and partnership, and consequently the sense of belonging and ability to comprehend signs. Drama is discussed as the interface of recreation and rehabilitation in disability contexts. The findings and considerations are presented for further assessment and development, in order to enhance community-based rehabilitation, human growth, access to culture, and quality of life among individuals with special needs.

Key words: applied drama, art accessibility, community-based rehabilitation, special education drama, joint partnership, severe learning disability, speech disability

The doctoral thesis can be downloaded from (summary in English, pages 194-200): http://julkaisut.jyu.fi?id=978-951-39-3840-6

Read more information about the thesis in Finnish.

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