Ten weeks of in-class drama coaching in a remedial third and fourth-grade classroom helped the teacher and students transform their approach to reading and improve the students' attitude about and success in reading. Dramatic training and expression offered students the opportunity to contribute their own background knowledge and understanding, improve their accuracy and momentum, broaden their understandings and expressive choices, and begin to see themselves as actors, or active readers. That sense of achievement positively affected their self-perception.
The use of creative drama with fifth-grade remedial reading students to act out stories read in class enables them to better understand what they read and also help them better understand reading they do not act out such as reading exercises found in standardized tests.
Fifth and 6th graders' participation in improvisational drama throughout a school year resulted in greater use of expressive and interactional language skills as well as more traditional classroom informational language skills. Informational language skills involve lower-order thinking skills while expressive language used by these drama participants reveal and develop the ability to speculate, imagine, predict, reason, and evaluate their own learning—or, higher order thinking skills. Interactional language skills were found in students' exchanges with each other and later reflection on interactions. Students' own reflections on the improvisations brought up moral issues, not typical in information-driven classrooms. The authors believe that, "Drama puts back the human content into what is predominantly a materialistic curriculum".
Creative drama exercises improved learning-disabled students' behavior and speaking skills necessary for success in the classroom. Regular and special education teachers determined which skills were necessary. Learning-disabled students were tested with a comparison group before and after creative drama exercises. Those who received creative drama improved social skills such as courtesy to others, self-control, focus on classroom work and following directions. They also improved their oral expression skills. These benefits were sustained when tested again two months after the end of the creative drama program.
An analysis of many research studies on the effects of classroom drama exercises showed positive effects on language development including written and oral story recall, reading achievement, reading readiness, oral languages development, and writing.
High level of involvement in theater co-related to high levels of achievement in reading proficiency. Low socio-economic status (SES) students highly involved in theater outscored the low SES students who were not involved in theater in reading proficiency. The 9 percent advantage of high-theater involved 8th graders grows to a 20 percent advantage by 12th grade.
Original writing of plays by high school drama students made them more cooperative and confident learners in terms of valuing their own ideas and valuing their contribution to the group through improved attendance. They also became more active learners in terms of seeking out additional information and insight through library research and group discussions. These confident attitudes and behaviors led to more sustained activities of learning rather than giving up in the face of doubts or complex problems.