July 25 2011

Reflections on the Mary Immaculate School Drama Project

Shadows of people

by Tracy Evans, Drama Development Worker

So what happened in that 6 weeks? How do we evaluate that kind of work? If we are communicating on a level far beyond language, how do we identify what is really happening? In our evaluation with the boys, their comments on what they enjoyed was basic – of course it was, their level of English is basic. So if we are relying on the English language to be a vehicle for expression, and the people we are working with don’t have the key to start up that vehicle (or have limited access to use of it), then we are not being inclusive.

Could we offer evaluation sheets that were in the boys’ first language?  Possibly. They would certainly be able to understand what we were asking them then, but we wouldn’t understand their answers. Even if we had their answers translated, there is always something lost in translation.

What other modes of evaluation do I have available to me? Could I measure the success or impact of these workshops on the ‘feeling’ in the group? Could it be measured on the smiles (how many, how often, how big?), or the eye contact (is there any? Does it change?), or the physical contact (a nod, a handshake, a clap on the back)? Non-verbal communication is culturally bound. So if we are working with people from other cultures, then we also need to be able to ‘read’ these signs.

When we take language away, we are left with a subtle field of communication. Experts say that 50-75% of our communication is non-verbal (up to 90% of all of our communication has nothing to do with the words we use), and yet we rely so heavily on language to evaluate the work we do as facilitators: we usually write reports. So in an attempt to explore creatively what a non-verbal evaluation might look like (based on facilitator observation), I have come up with the following starting point. This will be in development in the coming months during my work at Valley and Vale. If anyone has other models they use, I would be glad to hear from you! You can email me on [email protected]

Modes of expression we can base our evaluations on:



eye contact (gaze)


vocal nuance



facial expression

pause (silence)





word choice and syntax

sounds and tone (paralanguage)


Using continuums with images rather than words to record feedback, so for example a report on Eye Contact might look like:

Eye contact - 3 eyes, small to big