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Commitment, adherence and dropout among young talented dancers: A multidisciplinary mixed methods investigation

Aujla, Imogen (2012). Commitment, adherence and dropout among young talented dancers: A multidisciplinary mixed methods investigation. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The aim of this research was to understand why some young talented dancers stay in dance training while others decide to leave. In order to meet this aim, commitment, adherence and dropout among young talented dancers was investigated in five studies using a multidisciplinary mixed methods design. Participants were from eight of the UK Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) in Dance, nationwide talent development schemes that provide high quality part-time training to young people aged 10-18 years. The first study was a review of the literature on talent identification and development in order to understand the nature of the cohort and the type of environment in which the young people trained. The second study investigated multidisciplinary characteristics of 334 students to gain a descriptive understanding of the participants. Thirdly, nineteen committed students were interviewed to understand their experiences in dance and reasons for staying in training from their own perspectives. In the fourth study, ten students who had dropped out from a CAT were interviewed about their experiences and reasons for leaving; this data was triangulated using demographic information gathered from the CATs. Finally, a set of multidisciplinary characteristics was used to predict adherence to the CATs in the fifth study (N = 287).

Results revealed that commitment to the CATs was underpinned by enjoyment, social relationships with peers and teachers, the opportunities available on the scheme and parental support. Adherence was positively predicted by harmonious passion, a love of dance characterised by a flexible type of involvement, and negatively by ego-involving motivational climate perceptions. This means that students were less likely to stay in training if they perceived their learning environment to emphasise other-referenced learning, competition among peers, objective success and punishment of mistakes. The main reasons for dropping out of the scheme according to the participants were having conflicting demands, change in aspirations, course content, difficulty making friends, and lost passion. Injury, financial factors, low perceived competence, and teacher behaviour emerged as minor reasons. Younger students were more likely to cite course-related reasons for dropping out than older students, while older students were more likely to cite change in aspirations and lost passion than their younger counterparts. Although participants were involved in a talent development scheme, aspects of physical competence, as identified in the first literature review study, did not appear influential in adherence and dropout.

Overall these studies address a complex and under-researched area in dance. Results indicate that commitment can be maintained or enhanced by maximising enjoyment and passion, minimising elements of ego-involving motivational climates, facilitating positive peer relationships, ensuring training incorporates appropriate challenge and encouraging parental support.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Departments: Doctoral Theses
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