MARA: Movement Assessment and Recording App

The world’s first iPad app for dance movement therapy assessment


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VERSION 2  AVAILABLE IN LATE SEPTEMBER 2017

The next version of our app, now called MARA, will be released in late September. This includes a much expanded range of outcomes, further developed through trials; new security features allowing two levels of access and the option of different users on the same app licence; and expanded graphing options. Contact: kim@makingdancematter.com.au to be advised when the new version is released.

About the App

Introducing our new product, MARA (Movement Assessment and Recording App), the world’s first iPad app for dance movement therapy assessment.

This product helps dance movement therapists and other dance specialists assess their clients’ progress effectively and efficiently. In enabling practitioner-collected data, the app makes for better therapists and therapy, and contributes to the evidence base of our work.

MARA is simple to use and employs plain language for application by trained therapists as well as non-DMT trained support staff. Plain language allows assessment results to be understood by program managers, funders, and the clients themselves.

At the same time, the app is strongly based in theory, with therapeutic domains, foci and assessment indicators informed by influential ideas including Judith Hanna’s universal descriptors of learning through dance, broader wellbeing theory and Laban Movement Analysis. It is based on the Framework for Dance Movement Assessment (Dunphy and Mullane, 2017), originally developed to assess clients’ progress in DMT programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Framework is applicable for assessment of clients’ progress through DMT in a range of contexts, with therapists able to select therapeutic domains and foci to assess each session or program from a broad range encompassing physical, cultural, cognitive, emotional and interpersonal domains.

How it works

The app technology allows therapists to assess as they go. No paper, pens or sitting down required. Just tap the screen to make an assessment, and the app automatically turns the tap into data, which is collated into table and graph form on the spot. Client responses can be compared for any period: within or across a single session, a series of sessions, a year, or more. Client progress can be compared for an individual over time, or between clients or groups of clients. This reduces the need for laborious transcription of data from notes to computers to assessment report.

MARA’s features

Client information storage: MARA’s functions include storage of client personal data such as name, contact details, information about health and an identification photo.

Attendance function: An attendance function allows monitoring of client participation in a program, including the number of sessions the client has attended compared with the total number of sessions offered. A function of ‘Groups’ enables individual client records to be organised into groups as clients might be in DMT settings.

Data export: Data can be exported in Excel form, via email and transfer to iTunes. This enables it to be used in other contexts, for archiving or back-up.

Additional data collection options: Additional data collection functions include integrated photo, video, drawing, sound recording and session notes options.

Awards

We’re pleased that our work developing MARA has been acknowledged in two awards, one in the US and one in Australia.

2015: Award for innovation in dance movement therapy, American Dance Therapy Association, ADTA Conference, San Diego, USA, October 2015.
2014: Award for outstanding presentation. Using new technology for classroom assessment: an iPad app to measure learning in dance education, Excellence in Professional Practice Conference, ACER, Melbourne, May 2014.

Acknowledgements

Much appreciated support was provided by the Hanny Exiner Memorial Foundation (DTAA) for the development of the app, and PACFA (Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia) and an anonymous charitable foundation for a preliminary trial. Collaborators at Sunshine SDS, led by Principal Michael Devereaux, and in the USA, at Columbia College Chicago, including Susan Imus, Laura Allen, Hannah Bailey and Patrick Justin, offered very useful feedback in the app’s first development and trial stages. Other trial contributors include JungHsu Wan (New Zealand), Patti Russell-Curry (USA) and Alida Esmail (Canada). Developers Advaita Digital (Frank Ryder, Dennis Claringbold and Gary Bass) applied themselves with great diligence to the task of app creation.