Development of Emotional Intelligence through Dramatisation

Estefanía Castillo-Viera

Emilia Moreno-Sánchez

Inmaculada Tornero-Quiñones

Jesús Sáez-Padilla

*Corresponding author: Estefanía Castillo Viera

Original Language Spanish

Cite this article

Castillo Viera, E., Moreno-Sánchez, E., Tornero Quiñones, I., & Sáez Padilla, J. (2021). Development of Emotional Intelligence through Dramatisation. Apunts. Educación Física y Deportes, 143, 27-32.



This study analysed the effects of a dramatisation intervention as physical education (PE) content in primary education on emotional intelligence. The management of our emotions and of our relationships with others are key socialisation and intervention tools in the education setting. PE is ideal for the development of these skills since it provides specific contents that could be related to an improvement in self-awareness, expression and communication. The purpose of this intervention was to develop expressive, communicative and critical skills through different dramatisation resources. In order to analyse the effects of this proposal, a quasi-experimental study was designed providing for an analysis between two groups (control and experimental) from an intentional sample of 294 students (141 boys and 153 girls). An emotional intelligence questionnaire for children was administered to the subjects as a pre-test and post-test to evaluate the influence of a dramatisation programme. The SPSS-22 statistical package was used to perform a descriptive analysis of the pre-test-post-test data on the emotional intelligence factors, to wit emotional expressiveness, self-control, motivation, self-awareness and social skills. The Shapiro-Wilk test was applied to determine normality. The differences between pre- and post-intervention were determined with Student’s t-test for related samples. Following the data analysis, it may be asserted that dramatisation gave rise to improvements in certain emotional intelligence factors in female students and more notably in male students.

Keywords: body expression, dramatisation, physical education.


The premise of this paper is the conviction that the management of our emotions and our relationships with others are key tools for socialisation and intervention in our environment by promoting communication-based relationships. Emotional education is regarded as a continual and permanent learning process that seeks to boost the development of emotional competencies as a key element of students’ comprehensive development to prepare them for life (Bisquerra, 2000) and to do away with emotional illiteracy (Bisquerra, 2011). Fernández-Berrocal and Extremera (2002) consider that explicit emotional education is very important in the school setting, as is the teaching staff’s influence on such emotions (Pérez-González et al., 2019). 

One of the objectives of emotional education is the development of emotional competencies which include emotional awareness, emotional regulation, emotional autonomy, socio-emotional competencies and competencies for wellbeing (Bisquerra, 2003). Physical education is the ideal setting for the development of emotional competencies through motor practice (Alcaraz et al., 2017; Cañabate et al., 2018) for students and teachers alike (Aparicio & Fraile, 2016). It is also the ideal framework for using educational contents and resources linked to the arts of movement, although it could also be addressed as cross-cutting content due to its relationship with emotional intelligence, art, communication and culture in general (Torrents & Mateu, 2015).

The primary education) syllabus, governed by the regulatory framework in Andalusia (BOJA, 2015), establishes that understanding, expression and communication of messages, feelings and emotions should be developed in PE through the body, gestures and movement both spontaneously and creatively and also individually and collectively. 

Motos (2018) describes a broad variety of drama activities, including drama games, dramatisation, role-playing, improvisation, simulations, reading texts and individual or group writing. In PE, these activities will be developed as content in the body expression block.

Previous studies have shown that dramatisation content is a suitable resource for the development of emotional intelligence (Cruz et al., 2013; Gallardo & Saiz, 2016; González García, 2015; Motos, 2018; Sánchez & Coterón, 2015). This body expression content is extremely satisfying for students (Rodríguez-Negro & Yanci, 2020) and improves their mood (Torrents et al., 2011). Moreover, it helps to explore and express feelings (Motos, 2018), develops creativity, which in turn is conducive to creating an atmosphere of trust, safety and collaboration (González García, 2015), and can be applied to other motor tasks in physical education (Torrents, 2020).

Based on the foregoing, the following question is asked: Is body expression, and more specifically the technique of dramatisation, a suitable resource for the development of emotional intelligence in PE? To this end, the study’s general objective was to analyse the relationship between emotional intelligence factors and a dramatisation programme used with primary school students.


The study had a quasi-experimental design. 


A total of 294 students (141 boys and 153 girls) from sixth-year primary education from four schools in Huelva (11 and 12 years) took part in the study. For the purpose of recruitment, the administration of each school and the students’ parents were contacted to secure their informed consent. The approval of the Biomedical Research Ethics Portal of Andalusia was requested and obtained. 

The simple random sampling technique was used. All of the state primary schools (21) in the city of Huelva were invited to participate, four (19.04%) of which accepted. The sample population selection criterion consisted of choosing several groups from among the primary education classes of the schools participating in the study at random. 

The participants were unaware of the study purpose. They were divided into two groups: the experimental group, comprised of 151 students (54.4%) (74 boys and 77 girls) to whom a body expression teaching unit based on dramatisation was applied; and the control group comprised of 143 students (48.6%) (67 boys and 76 girls) who did other PE content not related to body expression. The students participating in the research were distributed homogeneously in the sixth year of primary education.

This year was selected because the dramatic play and creative dramatic content fulfil the requirements of the curriculum design of the PE subject in primary education (BOJA, 2015).

Performance of the intervention programme

The intervention programme conducted in the subject of PE was based on the body expression content block, more specifically dramatisation. 

The dramatisation objectives in primary education were: to develop the student’s autonomy with a view to attaining self-awareness and personal development; develop the capacity to express emotions and to give and receive aesthetic messages; develop critical thinking; develop creativity, promoting fluent, flexible and original proposals. 

The dramatisation contents in primary education were: lack of inhibition and spontaneity; symbolic play, expression games, functional play, role-playing and improvisation; dramatic forms: puppets, marionettes, masks, shadow play, black theatre, recitals, collective creation, text creation; basic elements of dramatic structure (characters, topic, space and time, the roles of actor and spectator); body expression: body rhythm and movement; exploring and experimenting with material resources (objects, music, sound, wardrobe, lights, decorative items); analysis and assessment of dramatic activities and drama performances.

This was performed for a period of eight weeks with a frequency of two weekly sessions, each one lasting 45 minutes. 

The programme was led by postgraduate students with PE qualifications and previous training in body expression and dramatisation who were tutored by members of the research project. The people who taught the sessions were unaware of the study objectives.

Dramatisation is taken to mean a process of creation, interaction and spontaneous responses to conflictive situations; the teaching staff act as facilitators by participating in the experience; the students are the participants and creators of the process; the participants take on the roles of authors, audience, critics, etc.; the work process is open and flexible; the participants construct their proposals and draw from their own experience; the emphasis is placed on communication and the creation process, observing the preparation, incubation, illumination and review phases; the product is not conceived in terms of performance and neither is it a purpose in itself but rather forms part of the expression and communication process. 

The teaching unit provided for the three elements of the dramatic event (presentation, crisis and outcome) while also including the elements of character, conflict, space, time, story line and topic. 


An emotional intelligence questionnaire in children by Porcayo (2013) for children aged between 10 and 12 years, was used. This questionnaire evaluates the index of emotional intelligence divided into five dimensions: emotional expressiveness, comprised of 7 items (“states that they feel good after completing an activity”); self-control, comprised of 8 items (“accepts proposals made by others”); motivation, comprised of 7 items (“when they do something well, they make positive comments about it”); self-awareness, comprised of 5 items (“talks to friends or classmates of their age and reaches agreements with them”) and social skills, comprised of 3 items (“has difficulty adapting when going to parties”). A Likert response format for the items was used with 5 options, ranging from 1) “Never” to 5) “Always”. In most of the items, the ideal answer is associated with the value of 5, barring items 17, 18, 23, 26, 27 and 28 which are reversed and in which the best-rated option has the value of 1.

According to the Cronbach scale, the alpha coefficients of the five sub-scales showed moderate internal consistency of the corresponding total scores (emotional expressiveness α = .82, self-control α = .83, motivation α = .82, self-awareness α = .79, social skills α = .77).

The questionnaire was administered at the time established by each school and the students were informed that completing it was confidential and voluntary.  

Statistical analysis  

The data were analysed with the SPSS statistics software package V.22.0 for Windows. (SPSS Inc., Chicago, USA) and the level of significance was set at p < 0.05. The data were displayed with descriptive statistics tests reflecting the mean, standard deviation and percentages. Student’s t-test was used to perform comparisons of socio-demographic variables between groups and of the study variables (emotional expressiveness, self-control, motivation, self-awareness, social skills) depending on gender. A pre-test and post-test ANCOVA was performed with gender as a covariant. Subsequently, the comparison of the groups post-test and pre-test was examined with ANCOVA, according to gender and performance in the pre-test (for each variable) as covariants. 

Cohen’s d is presented as mean effect size (small: 0.2-0.3, medium: around 0.5, and large ≥ 0.8).  


Table 1 shows the differences between girls and boys in the variables studied. It should be emphasised that the variables of emotional expressiveness, self-control, motivation and self-awareness were statistically significant in the pre-test. The girls obtained higher scores in all cases. However, effect size was medium for the self-control and motivation variables and low for the emotional expressiveness and self-awareness variables.

Table 1
Descriptive statistics depending on gender.

See table

In the post-test, the significant variables were emotional expressiveness and motivation, with the girls obtaining the highest score and with a low effect size.

No significant gender-related differences were obtained in the remaining post-test variables.

Subsequently, an ANCOVA was performed to study the pre- and post-test variables of the control and experimental groups. There were no significant differences between the control and experimental groups according to gender.

Table 2 presents the significant differences (p < .05) observed between the experimental group and control group from the pre- to post-test evaluation. Following the intervention, increases in emotional intelligence were observed in the emotional expressiveness, self-control, motivation and self-awareness variables in the experimental group.


The objective of this study was to analyse the relationship between emotional intelligence factors and a dramatisation programme applied to primary school students. Following the data analysis, it may be stated that this dramatisation programme promotes the development of different dimensions of emotional intelligence such as emotional expressiveness, self-control, motivation, self-awareness and social skills. 

Authors such as Motos (2018) showed that dramatisation activities help to explore and express feelings and may be used as a teaching strategy for students’ emotional development (Cruz et al. 2013) or as content by drawing on the everyday situations students experience (Gallardo & Saiz, 2016). Sánchez and Coterón (2015) argue that experimenting in the movement arts, whether as a performer, spectator or choreographer, is conducive to students’ emotional development. 

Table 2
Effect of 8 weeks of body expression on the students’ emotional intelligence.

See table

The results also suggest that this dramatisation programme led to notable improvements in emotional intelligence levels among male students with regard to emotional expressiveness, self-control and self-awareness. These results are similar to the intervention performed by Domínguez and Castillo (2017) which found that dancing as body expression content promotes greater awareness of emotions and feelings.

This dramatisation programme has given rise to significant improvements in the various emotional intelligence factors among female and male students, with the most outstanding improvements achieved by the male students. 

Although there is evidence of the relationship between dramatisation and emotional intelligence, these data should be interpreted with care and further research in this field is required to be able to mainstream and extrapolate the findings to other settings. 


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ISSN: 2014-0983

Received: 10 April 2020

Accepted: 8 September 2020

Published: 1 January 2021