The use of drama in A Level chemistry: a study into the effects of simulation-role-play on the quality of learning of organic reaction mechanisms

Chris Otter, Michael Inglis, Ian Abrahams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Much of the research into the use of drama in science
education has been qualitative, with its primary focus being on its
affective value amongst students aged 6–14 years, with a smaller
fraction on effectiveness in terms of academic achievement and
understanding of chemistry amongst older school students (16–18
Purpose: This article reports on a study that compared the effectiveness of drama, as a pedagogy, with a didactic practice examinations-questions-based approach on students’ understanding of chemistry organic reaction mechanisms as measured by
examination question scores.
Sample: Data were collected in seven 11–18 schools and a Further
Education (FE) college in England, with a total of 236 students, aged
16–18 years, studying Advanced (A) Level chemistry. Each institution had two different classes studying chemistry concurrently.
Design and methods: The research was a quasi-experimental
intervention with one class of A Level chemistry students in each
institution being taught an aspect of organic reaction mechanisms
using drama and the second, non-drama, class being taught the
same material using practice examination questions. Postintervention, all students completed previously unseen A Level
examination questions and, in one phase of the study,
a diagnostic question designed to probe deeper understanding.
The responses were subject to statistical analysis.
Results: In all cases there were no statistically significant differences between the test scores of the two groups for the answers to the examination questions. However, answers to a diagnostic question, probing deep level understanding, showed a statistically significant difference between the two groups in favour of the drama
Conclusions: Whilst drama is at least as effective as the use of
practice examination questions in the teaching and learning of
organic reaction mechanisms it was statistically significantly more
effective in terms of the development of deeper level conceptual
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Science & Technological Education
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2024

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