Genetic testing in a drama and discussion workshop exploring knowledge construction

Anne Hill, E. Dawson, John Barlow, E. Weitkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this pilot project, drama was used to situate genetic testing in a social and cultural context – that of the family. The drama was used to stimulate discussion about social issues relating to genetic testing, such as who has the right to know the results of the test and whether participants would want to know their ‘genetic future’. A 10-minute, open-ended drama was developed as stimulus for a further 40-minute discussion-based workshop that focused on the issues that someone considering having a genetic test might face. The drama was performed to groups of 20–60 secondary school students. These larger groups were broken down into groups of four to 10 for the discussion aspect of the workshop. Seven drama workshops were delivered to 16–19-year-olds in Bristol, Reading and Southampton. A total of 240 students participated in the workshops. The project found that the drama discussion workshop format prompted students to develop their learning about the social issues surrounding genetic testing, with an increase in comprehension and scientifically appropriate use of language and concepts over the course of the workshop. The project also found students learned socially, as a group, using the discussion time to develop their arguments and scaffold knowledge with their peers on to that delivered in the workshop.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-390
Number of pages30
JournalResearch in Drama Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


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