Cook Children's Pilot Study

Rebekah’s graduate work involved creating a workshop for children with
chronic illness to boost their language and literacy skills. This 9-hour
intervention was piloted at Cook Children’s Hospital with great success. In
fact, this research won the University of Texas at Arlington's 2015 Provost Award for
college-wide graduate research. The intervention looked like this:

  1. Students collaborated to write individual plays based on personal experiences for 9 hours of group narrative instruction.
  2. Students cast peers in their developing plays early and often during the writing process, creating a rich platform for real-time feedback.
  3. Students performed both peer and mentor plays, improvised original dialogue, and collaborated actively to solve problems related to building a 5-part story structure (beginning, inciting incident, attempts to solve, climax, ending).
  4. Students were guided through character and plot development with greater motivation because the stories were their own.
  5. Grammatical frameworks were targeted during story retelling and playwriting activities, including elaborated noun phrases, subordinating conjunctions, and clauses.
  6. Student works were celebrated with a final filming by the Child Life Zone production team.

Results showed that students improved their ability to understand stories, tell stories and include complex grammar in their stories at statistically significant levels:

Narrative Comprehension

  • Pretest
  • Posttest

Oral Narration

  • Pretest
  • Posttest

These outcomes are important because building these oral narrative skills are highly correlated with becoming a better reader and writer. Research into our methods is ongoing so that we can continually update our programs.