You don’t have to wait until tomorrow, tomorrow, or tomorrow.  Our article on the effects of student groups seeing live theater is available on Educational Researcher today!

The article is an updated and peer-reviewed version of the article we posted on SSRN last fall.  In it we discuss the combined results of five experiments we conducted in which students were randomly assigned to go on a field trip to see live theater or be in the control group.  In two of those experiments we added a second treatment condition in which students went on a field trip to see a movie version of the play.  We found that students randomly assigned to see live theater experienced significantly higher tolerance and social perspective taking as well as stronger knowledge of the plot and vocabulary of the plays than the control group.  Being randomly assigned to the movie treatment did not produce these same benefits.

So there seems to be something about experiencing live theater that cannot easily be produced by watching a movie instead.  Given how often schools are inclined to watch movies and how rarely they are now willing to go see live theater, these results are quite relevant.

Jay P. Greene is a professor and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, where he directs the university’s National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab.