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PATHS students learn communication through dance collaboration

PATHS students learn communication through dance collaboration
March 15, 2021 Karli Geyer
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PATHS students learn communication through dance collaboration

Over the past five years, students enrolled in the Post-Secondary Access and Training in Human Services certificate program and dance pedagogy classes have come together for a collaboration course called Communication Through Movement.

PATHS is a year-long program offered through the Center on Disability and Development. The program prepares students with intellectual or developmental disabilities to go out into the workforce, find a job and live more independently.

“In the class portion [of the program] that takes place in the summer and in the fall, we are trying to help build the students’ awareness of communication, nonverbal cues regarding emotions, personal and shared space in daily interactions, and looking at different settings of how you might interact with someone,” instructional associate professor Alexandra Pooley said.

PATHS and dance pedagogy students practicing in the dance studio.

PATHS and dance pedagogy students practicing in the dance studio.

The dance pedagogy course focuses on teaching dance science students class management skills, lesson planning and differentiation to prepare them for teaching students in their careers.

“The dance pedagogy course is designed to give the students the formal education that they need on how to teach dance,” Pooley said. “The focus of this program is high school, middle school and elementary school.”

About the course

Communication Through Movement was created to help the PATHS students grow in areas that they were lacking such as social interactions and misunderstanding of nonverbal communication. This course provides the PATHS students with opportunities to improve and practice interactions among fellow students.

“The goal of the course is creative movement and exploring things like nonverbal communication, professionalism, all those other things that they work on in their other classes, but in a physical format,” Pooley said.

Students study these skills through guided activities where the pedagogy students lead groups of the PATHS students. The focus of the groups is for the pedagogy students to gain confidence in teaching and for the PATHS students to gain an understanding of the topic.

This course teaches PATHS students how to recognize what other people are feeling, interact with people such as friends or potential employers and act in a given scenario such as what to wear for different occasions.

“We have done activities where we would give one group a tie and another group a more casual t-shirt. Then we ask ‘Okay, what kind of situation would it be appropriate to wear this versus this?’,” Pooley said. “We want them to be able to be given a task and think through it for themselves.”

PATHS and dance pedagogy students dancing together.

PATHS and dance pedagogy students dancing together.

Plans for the future

The future of the Communication Through Movement course is focused on bringing back the performance element. Performing in a showcase gives the students the opportunity to put what they have learned into practice.

“When we have done it, I remember they were getting very nervous and then they started doing their breaths. Their breaths are something that we were doing in class as a relaxation technique of learning to kind of calm ourselves and calm our minds,” Pooley said. “And it was really nice to see them take that and then apply it.”

Currently, PATHS students and those taking dance pedagogy courses are the only students taking the Communication Through Movement class. Pooley hopes to integrate the PATHS students with those of different majors.

“The PATHS students then would get even more collaboration with other students,” Pooley said. “They could make friends across the board, not just those in the dance program.”

The Communication Through Movement course has seen over 150 students over five years and continues to push students into spaces where they are learning essential skills for their careers and involvement in the community.

About the Writer


Karli is a news writing student intern in the College of Education and Human Development from Devine, Texas. She is double majoring in agricultural communications & journalism and agricultural leadership & development.

Articles by Karli

For media inquiries, contact our Media Relations Coordinator, Ashley Green

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