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Acting up for Interview Success: A Forum Theatre Approach. Jacqueline McManus and Catherine Taylor. Introduction. Look at our study exploring using Forum Theatre (FT) to ‘teach’ interview skills Explain the ethos and practice of FT Discuss our HECSU funded research Answer questions.
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Acting up for Interview Success:A Forum Theatre Approach Jacqueline McManus and Catherine Taylor July 2019
Introduction • Look at our study exploring using Forum Theatre (FT) to ‘teach’ interview skills • Explain the ethos and practice of FT • Discuss our HECSU funded research • Answer questions
Context • UWL – high numbers of first generation HE entrants from low-income families • Little access to formal and informal sources of IAG (Career Readiness Survey 2017) • High levels of confidence in interview skills (Career Readiness Survey 2017) • Not always translated into success at interview • How do we effectively support students in a way that doesn’t promote a deficit model? (Archer 2003, Morley 2014, Bailey 2015)
‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’ Shakespeare • Developed FT as part of Theatre of the Oppressed (1973) • Drew on Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ (1968) • Audience are the ‘spect-actors’ • The facilitator is the ‘joker’ • The performance is a ‘game’ Augusto Boal (1931 – 2009)
Theatre of the oppressed In Theatre of the Oppressed, reality is shown not only as it is, but also, more importantly, as it could be. Which is what we live for – to become what we have the potential to be. Boal, A (2002) Games for Actors and Non-Actors
Our approach • Take a live sample job • Careers team act out interview • Team members take role of interviewer and interviewee • Team member is the ‘joker’ • Students are ‘spect-actors’
Links to Forum Theatre • A story rooted in reality, with which audience can identify • Directly acknowledges issues of power, but shows that this can be changed • Is not didactic: allows for re-enactment of an initially authoritative narrative • Provides a safe space for rehearsing reality, where participants reflect on strategies for change (Babbage, 2004)
RESEARCH QUESTIONS Overarching: • How can taking a collaborative ‘FT’ approach to developing interview skills with First Generation HE undergraduates improve their confidence and performance at job interview? Additionally: • What is the possible impact of FT interview workshops on first generation HE entrants’ graduate outcomes and therefore on their social mobility? • Can a FT Interview Workshop approach, with its potential for social justice and social mobility, be seen as ‘best practice’ with resources developed for use by other HE services?
Research METHOD • Qualitative: focus group two level 5 cohorts – social work and fashion business • Quantitative: career readiness survey, student union data plus follow-up longitudinal survey • Applying for graduate placements • Forum Theatre session • Followed immediately by semi-structured group interview exploring experience/views on process • Ethics
RESEARCH GROUP Number in both cohorts: 32
Research group Number in both cohorts: 32
Focus group aims • How helpful was the workshop? • How did it compare to previous interview skills help? • How confident were they after the workshop? • Did they have unanswered questions about interview technique? • Was there anything about the workshop that was not helpful?
Theoretical and pedagogical influences • Boal: Theatre of the Oppressed (1973) • Paolo Freire ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ (1968) rejects ‘bankable knowledge’ delivered by experts preferring ‘dialogic circles of culture’ • Nancy Fraser (1997) Social justice participatory parity as well as distributive • Linked theories of habitus, cultural capital and field (Bourdieu and Passeron 1977) • Graduate job application process, including interviews, requires a level of cultural and social capital not available to working class students (Friedman and Laurison 2019)
INITIAL FINDINGS/THEMES • No access to formal or informal sources of IAG • Knew how to get some jobs e.g. in the retail, catering, care industries but not professional placements/jobs • Daunted by interviews for graduate positions • Found FT fun and engaging • Enjoyed the participatory equality • Developed long term confidence • All students successful at placement interview after the workshop
…the fact that we could stop at any moment and then discuss it, and like address the issue straightaway made it quite detailed…that was useful I think dos and don’ts for some people can be quite patronising… whereas if you’ve got the space and the freedom to …say stop that’s not right, or someone else says it …then it clarifies it without having to be spoken at. It highlights what you could work on…errors you can make when you’re interviewing. So it gives you a base to work on as opposed to maybe failing at interviews You got to see how easy it is to slip up with the questions rather than when you’re being asked, you’re too worried about answering them, that you don’t notice where you might slip up. I did see things that you did during the interview that were seen as wrong. I saw myself do that, like a couple of times when I had an interview and I never really thought about it… it was … good to see little things that I do that might not be appropriate at that moment
CONSIDERATIONS • Adhering to Boal’s ethos of ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’. • Slipping into didactic style – tension • Staff ease with process – allocation of roles. Preference for different roles • Class size versus staff resource • Embedded in the curriculum versus extra-curricular
CONCLUSIONS • FT does seem to improve student confidence and performance at job interview • Helpful for team and lecturer relationship • Has to be done properly • Need to respect principles and people involved • Now our default way of teaching interview skills
What next? • Publish research report • Creating resources firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com