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The Performance Gym:
Exploring How to Learn

The Performance Gym was a research initiative developed to examine play as a tool for classroom learning. The initiative was hosted by THRIVING, a co-design lab led by Professor Lisa Grocott exploring education models that promote emotional intelligence, social cognition, self-awareness and holistic leadership.

In a semester-long course graduate students were led through two hours of “serious play” as part of a six-hour studio class. As a researcher on the project, I designed and implemented how to collect data from students and translate the research into actionable feedback for the university and dissemination. We developed visual worksheets, writing reflections and imagery associations and personally interviewed each student. This high-touch process allowed us to more deeply understand the impact of the Gym on students academic, professional and personal lives. 

We have published parts of this research as a chapter in the book, Public Interest Design Education Guidebook.

What I Loved
I passionately believe in the value of educational institutions adopting practices that emphasize whole-person learning and awareness. It was exciting and validating to bring this project to life and work in a space dedicated to exploring these critical practices. This project gave me the opportunity to co-discover the strengths and capacities of individual students and the collective beliefs and ideas inhibiting them from reaching their potentials. It was a lesson in the power of play and self-reflection. The intimacy of the research and deep effect the work had as students realized personal and professional challenges was a rewarding and inspiring process. 

Team Members 
Lisa Grocott, Roger Manix