Faculty Publications


Using improvisation to engage students and foster collaboration in learning communities

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Anthony Stamatoplos

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

November 2008

Date Available

November 2013


This presentation provided participants with an understanding of improvisational teaching and guidance for applying improvisation techniques in learning communities. The “teaching as performance” metaphor is common in education, comparing presentation style and skills to stage acting techniques. To respond effectively to students and allow for flexibility and creative teaching, teachers sometimes must improvise, in effect deviating from their planned “script.” The lens of improvisation, derived from improvisational theater, has been useful in understanding teacher responsiveness and student collaboration in the classroom. The session was framed partly by the works of scholars who have advanced the understanding of improvisational teaching. They suggest that teachers should learn techniques and structures from the professional improvisation community and apply them in the classroom. This session focused on fundamental improvisational acting techniques, contrasting them with traditional “scripted teaching.” Using examples from learning communities, the presenter demonstrated applications to teaching. He explained and demonstrated basic principles of improvisational acting, led brief improv activities with audience members, and facilitated audience exploration of their applications to teaching in learning communities.


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