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The TAEDS Tree: a case study of graduate identity and employability in a unique degree programme

Wardale, C. (2017) The TAEDS Tree: a case study of graduate identity and employability in a unique degree programme. EdD thesis, University of Reading

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TAEDS (Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies) was a unique B.A. degree at the University of Reading, U.K., established in 1996, with the last students graduating in 2018. Originally designed to train deaf people in drama teaching and leadership, deaf and hearing students followed the programme, which featured Sign Theatre, using British Sign Language within theatre. Over the years, TAEDS’ low entry tariff and diverse and inclusive curriculum attracted many non-traditional students, while the proportion of deaf students declined in comparison to hearing. In this study, TAEDS’ development and demise is considered in the context of drama in education in Britain; widening participation; employability and gendered choices in arts higher education. Identity development and issues within deafness and deaf education are also explored. This qualitative case study focuses on the perceptions of TAEDS alumni, from within a socially constructivist perspective. It investigates how alumni experiences before and during TAEDS impacted on their personal and professional identity development and high employability, in particular how drama within this context facilitated academic self-confidence and success. Both the structure of the study and the methodology are framed within the conceptual metaphor of a tree. Methods consist of an online survey; a paper questionnaire; a sample of interviews and a participant ‘TAEDS tree’ visual image. Findings are analysed using the constant comparative method and reveal a distinctive TAEDS graduate identity, within a strong alumni community. This analysis reveals the transformative effects of drama on marginalised students and identifies features of TAEDS which could be replicated in future nontraditional widening participation programmes. Although the outcomes are not generalisable, they contribute to educational knowledge through the particular methodological framework: by showing how the mainly female alumni can transcend gendered habitus; in advancing understanding of the importance of drama within twenty-first century education; in questioning concepts of employability and in raising awareness of TAEDS’ value in contributing to a more democratic society, where the arts and social justice are valued.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:Hopper, G. and Taggart, G.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:74937


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