This phenomenological study reports an authentic collaborative project between students of acting and directing (AD) and students of Teaching English as Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in University Sains Malaysia (USM). The project, which is integrated and infused with features of authentic learning and creative drama education, aims to provide the AD students with new learning experiences that are authentic in nature and that focuses on their abilities to direct a full theatre performance. Using qualitative data collection methods (i.e., online reflections and open-ended items), the study identified and determined six meaningful learning experiences that the 29 AD students gained: (i) constructing, sharing, and utilizing knowledge; (ii) understanding roles as directors; (iii) identifying and solving problems; (iv) creating and building teamwork; (v) developing creativity in directing; and (vi) practising professionalism in directing. The paper also provides some guidelines for other practitioners and researchers to undertake similar projects in future and in other settings.


authentic learning, collaborative learning, meaningful learning experiences, collaborative project, acting and directing students, theatre education, phenomenology

Author Bio(s)

Nur Hilyati Ramli, a lecturer at the Drama and Theatre Department of School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia, is a theatre practitioner and researcher who has been actively involved in the international arena of the performing arts industry, specializing in dancing, acting, and directing. Please direct correspondence to hilyati@usm.my.

Safia Najwa Suhaimi is a lecturer at the Graphic Communication Design department of School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia. She is keen on exploring and focusing on studies related to the applicability of visual design in addressing social and community issues. Please direct correspondence to safiasuhaimi@usm.my.

Muhammad Kamarul Kabilan is a Professor of TESOL at the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. His research interests include professional development, reflective teaching and online teaching and learning. Please direct correspondence to kabilan@usm.my.


We would like to thank the reviewers for the constructive comments and also the students of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for participating in the Advancing Creativety Together (ACT) Project.

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