Date of Conferral
John W. Flohr
Research in extracurricular activities and arts education demonstrate how experiences in those areas contribute to the well-being and ongoing development of students in higher education. Although practiced and performed across the United States, theatrical improvisation, as an art form or extracurricular activity, lacks investigation within the context of higher education. Without an understanding from the student perspective, higher educational stakeholders miss an opportunity to incorporate experiences that address the institutions' mission and learning goals or worse, inadvertently produce student disenfranchisement. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the experience of improvisational acting training, practice, and performance of 7 college students who participated in an improvisation group. Huizinga and Caillois's theories of play and Csikszentmihalyi's theory of flow served as the conceptual framework for the study. Data collection occurred at a community college in the mid-Atlantic region through 2 interviews with each participant and 1 focus group until reaching saturation of data. Data were analyzed through iterative coding of significant statements through which themes emerged. Themes included attraction to the activity, practice of the craft, applications of skills to life, and a continuance of improvisation in the participants' lives and at college. The findings lend credibility to other research supporting arts and extracurricular activities and provide educational stakeholders with insights from students on what they value in their educational experience. Positive social change can come from providing students with an education that includes fun, creativity, and socialization for a successful future.