Performance ethnography as an approach to health-related education

David Carless*, Kitrina Douglas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the educational potential of an arts‐informed performance ethnography entitled Across the Tamar, which comprises a series of stories, songs and poems. As a classroom action research project – a ‘teaching experiment’ – we gave three performances to undergraduate and postgraduate sport and health science, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy students at two universities in the United Kingdom. Drawing on data that comprise the written responses of 126 students, we explore the learning processes evident in the students' accounts. Student responses suggest that through privileging personal, embodied and emotive stories, the performance stimulated alternative insights into older women's lives and provoked them to reflect on this new knowledge in the context of their own lives. By considering student responses in relation to narrative theory, we explore how performance ethnography can contribute to learning, critical reflection and transformation among students more familiar with scientific approaches to research and teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Action Research
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • performance ethnography
  • arts-informed research
  • reflective practice
  • narrative


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