The increasing attention to arts integration in early childhood education necessitates assessment of arts skills in order to measure the impact and the mechanisms by which the arts can affect early childhood development. The purpose of this study is to describe and provide initial validation of a newly developed observational measure of preschool children's theatre arts skills, the Preschool Theatre Arts Rubric (PTAR), which measures five preschool theatre arts skills: independence in role play, use of face and gesture, focus/persistence, collaboration, and theatricality. We present findings regarding internal consistency, inter-rater reliability, construct validity (convergent and divergent), and sensitivity to change of the PTAR using a sample of 158 ethnically and linguistically diverse, low-income preschoolers participating in an early childhood theatre arts program using storytelling and storyacting (ST/SA) in their preschool classrooms. Findings indicate that the PTAR demonstrates acceptable internal consistency and interrater reliability; convergent and divergent validity with a norm-referenced measure of expressive language, an authentic measure of narrative expression, a teacher-rated measure of learning related social skills, and a measure of storytelling quality; and significant sensitivity to change. While more research is needed, results suggest that the PTAR can be reliably and validly used to observe preschool children's theatre arts skills in research, classroom, and programmatic contexts. Findings suggest that theatre arts skills are valid indicators of expressive language skills and to a degree, learning-related social behaviors.
- Creative drama
- Observational assessment