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What is Drama Worldbuilding?

Drama Worldbuilding is a creative pedagogy which activates collective inquiry through story making. The pedagogy has been developed through PhD research across 3 years by Dr Lisa Stephenson

Within Drama Worldbuilding

1. The drama is ‘framed’ by the drama practitioner in order to give skillful, flexible direction to the learning in response to the learners. 
2. The drama involves children actively building and making shared imagined worlds with negotiated rules on their own terms. There are multiple possibilities within the same event. 
3. The focus of the work is on dispositional (values, attitudes, mindsets) learning and collective problem solving. 
4. Children and practitioners use a range of creative expressions and have a thought journal for free writing and drawing. 
5. The imaginary world is co-created to illuminate aspects of the participants’ lived experiences using a range of multi-modal literacies 

Drama Worldbuilding moves through three phases:


What do children think of learning through Drama Worldbuilding? 


The 8 dispositions for Collective Creativity and Wellbeing are based on research using Drama Worldbuilding across 2 years in a Primary School. 
Dispositions are attitudes, mindsets, and values. 

Imaginative freedom is the opportunity to create new ideas. Children described this experience through the following dispositions: Being someone else and seeing their world (empathy) feeling in the flow and using it (immersion/participation), thinking of different things, going elsewhere (multiple possibilities and interpretation), unique expression, freedom to decide, make choices and act on them. 

The dispositions have been used by teachers nationally to assess and recognise creative/inquiry based learning in relation to socio-emotional literacy and evaluate arts practices.


Agency is our ability and freedom to make choices and act on those choices ethically- it requires openness to new ideas and experiences. Children described this experience through the following dispositions: sharing ideas, active listening, active compassion, seeing all viewpoints, trying new things.

Self efficacy is our belief in our capacity to act in certain ways to achieve a goal and confidence is our belief that we can rely on something. Children described this experience through the following dispositions: Be unique, sharing your imagination, don’t be afraid, overcoming self-doubt, feeling focused, trying new ways, feeling valued.


Belonging is our sense of security, acceptance and affinity with other people and places. Teamwork is an efficient collective action made from collective choices. Children described this experience through the following dispositions: seeing multiple viewpoints, valuing all ideas, debating, sharing ideas, feeling heard, disagreeing respectfully and solving problems together.

Embodied learning is holistic engagement through emotional, physical and cognitive meaning making. Critical thinking is making rational judgments based on action and reflection. Children described this experience through the following dispositions: Learning by doing (active learning), feeling focused, concentrate more, being brave, sharing ideas and imagination, learning more in different ways, not being told to be creative (self-autonomous learning), being unique, thinking what happens next, problem solving and fixing stuff.


Possibility thinking is the willingness to see possibilities everywhere instead of limitations. Children described this experience through the following dispositions: figuring things out, taking risks, happiness, confidence, freedom, challenge, experience, uniqueness.

Collective problem solving involves a common solution, it involves conflict resolution which is the process of reaching a consensus to a problem. Children described this experience through following dispositions: testing ideas, feeling heard, fighting without fighting, using all ideas, making decisions together- justifying why, negotiation, listening, struggling together, getting on together, learning through actions, being who you really are, using your story, being different.


Emotional inquiry is the ability to express and understand emotion. Children described this experience through following dispositions: enthusiasm, taking risks, participation, not worrying about right and wrong (validation), joy in learning, curiosity, playful, calming down (using anger/frustration positively), going somewhere elsewhere where anything can happen, feeling unique.

You can access these self-assessment dispositions (I can statements) for teachers below.

Drama Worldbuilding activates relational learning through affective learning.


Research with children highlights the pedagogy creates:

A sense of belonging and teamwork
A sense of purpose and urgency
A sense of investment and belief
A sense of imaginative freedom and agency
A sense of challenge and struggle


If you would like to cite this research, please refer to the following article:

Stephenson, L., 2023. Collective creativity and wellbeing dispositions: children's perceptions of learning through drama. Thinking Skills and Creativity, p.101188.

Illustrations by Camille Aubry

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