Taking the Personal to the Professional: Nursing Students Explore Conflict and Ethical Dilemmas from Their Praxis Using Drama as a Learning Medium

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 2:10 PM

Morag G. Morrison, BA, DipEd, MA, PhD
Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Margret Lepp, PhD, RN
Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to see how Drama can be used as a learning medium to explore conflict management in nursing education.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to develop an understanding of how Drama can provide an effective teaching strategy for developing professionalism within nursing.

This paper explores Drama as a pedagogic approach to develop professional relational skills, including conflict management, in nursing education.  Drama as a learning medium can engage individuals in group activities such as fictional role play, where participants can learn to explore caring issues, events and relationships (O’Toole & Lepp, 2000). Drama used in this way can be understood as the pedagogy of experience, and therefore related to experiential learning, “a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984:38).  Drama pedagogy offers a way of building understanding that honours active engagement and shared reflection. In one Drama education approach, Forum Theatre, the audience are asked to explore a problematic scenario by directly taking over the role of one of the actors to offer possible alternative action or dialogue.  Participants actively explore alternative interactions which may lead to a more positive outcome in the scenario as presented. In the context of one Drama workshop developed with nursing students, Forum Theatre provided opportunities to explore and develop professional practice.   This paper is based on research with 98 participants immediately following their engagement in a Forum Theatre experience. Analysis revealed the nature of learning through the medium of Drama; its ability to ‘Bridge theory and practice in nursing education”; “Foster courage and self-esteem” and “ Develop Cognitive engagement and emotional engagement” provided valuable opportunities to develop insight and awareness of professional issues. Drama is therefore a powerful pedagogic tool for developing professionalism in nursing education.


Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

O´Toole, J. & Lepp, M. (Eds.) (2000). Drama for Life:  Stories of Adult Learning & Empowerment. Brisbane: PlayLab press.