Type of Resources

Dissertation/Thesis

Date Created

12-2020

Abstract

ABSTRACT Vormwald, Laura. Fostering Resilience: Integrating Positive Character Strengths with Dance Making Skills to Help Young Children Cope with Adversity. Unpublished Master of Arts thesis, University of Northern Colorado, 2020. The purpose of this study was to investigate how involvement in a choreography unit focused on positive character strengths could increase confidence in strengths that foster resilience. Research shows that building resilience is the key to helping children overcome adversity and trauma. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to answer the three research questions in this study. Q1 Does involvement in dance making build students’ character strengths? Q2 Which character strengths are best developed through dance making? Q3 Which inspirations for dance making relate most thoroughly to the selected character strengths? The research instruments used were a pre and post survey as well as an exit interview. There were twelve fifth grade participants from a charter school in an urban area who participated in this research. Permission for this study was obtained from the school leader and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Northern Colorado. Consent and ascent forms were signed by the parents of student participants and the participants themselves. The research unit was implemented over the course of several months. The students learned about six character strengths from The Positivity Project that are known to build resilience. Each character strength was discussed in-depth. Students were then presented with different types of inspirations for their choreography based on these strengths. Inspirations included videos, visual art, and poetry. The students were asked to choreograph a dance based on each character strength which they later performed for the class. There were some unique limitations to this study due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the majority of the lessons were taught virtually, and some of the participants had to be replaced based on which students were able to consistently attend school online. There was also a small sample size and potential researcher bias since the researcher was already familiar with the participants as their dance teacher and designed the research instruments. Findings from this study suggested that choreography classes can lead to an increase in an individual’s confidence in their character strengths. Further research should be done on this subject to limit biases and determine consistency of these findings across different curricula and populations. Integrating character education with choreography classes could be a key factor in building more resilient students who are able to heal from trauma and toxic stress.

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