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Friday, April 26, 2019 - 12:00pm
Bronx Campus

Her Fulbright Fellowship took her all the way to Austria, but Dr. Wendy Mages, Associate Professor of Childhood Education at Mercy College, is taking the lessons she learned there and applying them to her work in New York.

She’s also sharing those lessons with colleagues. On April 7, 2019, Mages presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference, held in Toronto, Canada. Her presentation, “Educational Drama and Theater Pedagogy as an Integral Part of Training EFL Teachers,” focused on the integration of education drama and theater into a teacher preparation program for those who plan to teach English-as-a-foreign-language.

The presentation was an extension of Mages’ own background and interests. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater; she worked in museum education and children’s television, often drawing upon drama and theater to educate; and her master’s thesis and dissertation each focused on how drama and theater techniques could promote learning and development.

During her Fulbright Fellowship in Austria, Mages examined cohorts of Austrian teachers-in-training and studied their responses to creating and performing a play.

“I really appreciated how much time and effort the Austrian teacher educators and their teacher candidates put into their work on this project, as developing a script and producing a play is a time-intensive endeavor,” Mages noted. “Their collaborative spirit was wonderful to witness.”

She continued: “I also appreciated the high quality of the performances and how well the teacher candidates were able to engage their audiences. This was quite impressive, as many of the teacher candidates had little prior experience with drama or theatre. Importantly, most of the teacher candidates reported that engaging in this program helped them hone their English-language skills.”

Mages said that the program led her to pursue new methods of integrating drama and theatre into coursework at Mercy College, as well as into extracurricular programming.

While at AERA, Mages attended a variety of research sessions and was particularly impressed by research presentations on early childhood education, early childhood language development, arts-based educational research and interdisciplinary approaches to STEM education and the arts.

She was further inspired by fellow AERA attendees, who “shared interesting insights and encouraged [her] to publish this research, as they felt it would make a valuable contribution to the field.”

The knowledge gained by Mages won’t be confined to a Toronto hotel ballroom, however. She intends to continue folding this information into her research and into presentations she will be making this summer, including one in Zug, Switzerland, which focuses on educational drama and theatre in second- and foreign-language teaching.