This article is excerpted from Changing Education Through the Arts: Final Evaluation Report, 2005-2008.
Review of Relevant Research
Arts integration is a teaching strategy in which the arts are integrated with the non-arts curriculum to deepen students’ understanding of both (Isenberg & Jalongo, 2010, Werner & Freeman, 2001).
A body of research explores the effects of arts education within differing frameworks and settings using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. While little evidence suggests a clear, direct, causal link between learning through the arts and academic achievement, researchers have begun to look at the unique contributions the arts bring to student learning (Asbury & Rich, 2008; Deasy, 2002; Fiske, 1999; Hetland, Winner, Veenema & Sheridan, 2007; Winner & Hetland, 2000). Shifting the focus from traits measured by traditional testing methods to exploring the dispositions and habits of mind developed through arts-based instruction has led to a reevaluation of the role and benefits of the arts in education.
Impact on Students
Arts integration and arts education, in various formats, have positively and consistently been linked to increased student engagement, motivation, and persistence (Asbury & Rich, 2008; Deasy, 2002; Fiske, 1999; Hetland et al., 2007; Stevenson & Deasy, 2005). Arts learning is participatory and active and requires students to interact with content and materials using both their bodies and minds. This way of learning engages students by offering them many ways to gain understanding and express their knowledge. The arts can engage students who are not typically reached through traditional teaching methods, including those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, reluctant learners, and those with learning disabilities (Deasy, 2002; Fiske, 1999). In fact, children who frequently participate in the arts view themselves as more successful academically than those who infrequently participate in the arts (Burton, Horowtiz, Abeles, 1999).
When the arts are used to create a frame of reference for learning, students can make meaningful connections to one another, to themselves, to their lived world, and to other content areas (Burton et al., 1999; Fiske, 1999; Hetland et al, 2007 Stevenson & Deasy, 2005). Because they become “agents of their own learning,” students are often more willing to take responsibility for and give direction to their own learning experiences (Deasy & Stevenson, 2005). As students experiment with different art forms and processes, they learn to take risks through exploration and to develop flexible thinking skills, envisioning from different vantage points and responding to new possibilities in the creative process (Burton et al., 1999; Deasy & Stevenson, 2005; Eisner, 2002; Fiske, 1999; Hetland et al., 2007).
Benefits for Teachers and Schools
The benefits of arts integration extend beyond students, affecting teachers and schools as well. While a multitude of arts integration models are currently being applied in schools, almost all are built upon the collaborative efforts of classroom teachers and arts specialists (which may include artists in residence, visiting artists, school-based arts teachers, arts coaches, or some combination of these). Such collaborative relationships contribute to increased teacher satisfaction, interest, and success, and lead to the development of a sense of community of practice in the school (Burton et al., 1999; Deasy & Stevenson, 2005; Werner & Freeman, 2001). These teachers are more willing to take risks, both in their curriculum planning and in front of their students. They are innovative in their teaching, willing to experiment, persevere in integrating the arts despite barriers, and approach their classes in a more child-centered rather than adult-centered manner (Burton et al., 1999, Werner & Freeman, 2001).
Transforming the Learning Environment
Transforming a school’s learning environment to include successful and sustained arts-integrated instruction requires participation by the whole school community (Betts, 1995). Supportive administrators, ranging from superintendents to principals, are needed to ensure the continuity and depth of any partnership or program (Borden, 2006; Burton et al., 1999). Principals of arts-rich schools encourage teachers to take risks, to learn new skills, and to make changes in their instruction to support arts integration (Burton et al., 1999). Arts integration teaching methods, as well as the purpose, theory, and benefits of this pedagogy, must be made explicit to teachers through professional development (Betts, 1995; Borden, 2006; Werner & Freeman, 2001). Without these supports, teachers often think of arts integration as something extra and time-consuming that they must do (Werner & Freeman, 2001). With appropriate professional development, support, and collaboration with school based arts specialists and team members, teachers discover that arts-integrated teaching can and does meet existing curriculum standards. Sustained partnerships and professional development opportunities allow teachers to become comfortable making natural connections in the curriculum and turning routine activities into deep knowledge for learners (Werner & Freeman, 2001).
To see citations to the studies mentioned in this article, click on the CREDITS section below.
Arts Integration Strategies
Looking for arts integration strategies? This bibliography offers many sources.
- Cornett, Claudia. Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts: An Integration Resource for Classroom Teachers, 3rd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006. This book focuses on a wide range of topics related to the why, what and how of integrating multiple disciplines into classroom instruction.
- Crawford, Linda. Lively Learning: Using the Arts to Teach the K-8 Curriculum. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children, 2004. This book offers practical suggestions for bringing the arts into the daily life of the classroom by integrating the art forms into reading, writing, social studies, science, and math.
- Ehrenworth, Mary. Looking to Write: Students Writing Through the Visual Arts. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann, 2003. The author describes ways to employ the visual arts in the writing workshop with reasons to do it, guides for trying it, images, and worksheets.
- Ernst, Karen. Picturing Learning: Artists and Writers in the Classroom Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994. This book describes how a middle-school English teacher integrated reading and writing into an elementary art program.
- Flynn, Rosalind. Dramatizing the Content with Curriculum-Based Reader’s Theatre, grades 6-12. Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2007. This book shows teachers how to use Curriculum-Based Readers Theatre (CBRT) to increase students' motivation, active engagement with learning, and reading fluency.
- Goldberg, Merryl. Arts Integration: Teaching Subject Matter through the Arts in Multicultural Settings, 4th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2012. This book explores how to teach about the arts and teach your students through the arts. It provides numerous examples of ways the arts can be integrated throughout the K-8 curriculum.
- Goldberg, Merryl. Teaching English Language Learners Through the Arts: A Suave Experience. Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2004. This book describes the ways in which English language learners have excelled in an arts-based program. The book delves into all aspects of classroom practice, as well as professional development practices that support students’ learning through arts-based methods.
- Kelner, Lenore Blank. The Creative Classroom: A Guide for Using Creative Drama in the Classroom, PreK-6. Portsmouth, NH: 1993. This book provides teachers with a number of creative drama strategies for use in the classroom, on a daily basis and across the curriculum.
- Kelner, Lenore Blank and Rosalind Flynn. A Dramatic Approach to Reading Comprehension: Strategies and Activities for Classroom Teachers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006. This book focuses on arts integration and explains the what, how, and why of effective classroom drama as well as how drama increases students' reading comprehension skills.
- Mantione, Roberta D. and Sabine Smead. Weaving Through Words: Using the Arts to Teach Reading Comprehension. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association, 2003. This book shares draws on the arts as innovate ways to teach the critical strategies of reading comprehension to elementary school students.
- McDonald, Nan L. Handbook for K-8 Arts Integration: Purposeful Planning Across the Curriculum. Boston: Pearson Education, 2010. This book is a practical handbook to help teachers create and use standards-based arts activities to teach across the content areas.
- Nichols, Maria. Comprehension Through Conversation: The Power of Purposeful Talk in the Reading Workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006. Learning through the arts is often based on constructive conversations. This book helps teachers lay the foundation for helping students develop the critical skills needed to have meaningful, purposeful conversations (which are often a part of arts integration practice).
- Sklar, Daniel Judah. Playmaking: Children Writing and Performing their Own Plays. NY: Teachers and Writers Collaborative, 1991. Sklar’s personal account of teaching dramatic writing, direction, and performance, to a group of 7th graders in the South Bronx, reveals the planning and execution of his lessons. It deals with real life dynamics in the classroom and strategies for getting everyone participating.
- Teaching Artist Journal: A Quarterly Forum for Professionals, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, publishers. 325 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA. By Subscription. This quarterly publication seeks to improve the practices of teaching artists by providing a forum for exchange of ideas.
- Wilhelm, Jeffrey. Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension: Role Plays, Text Structure Tableaux, Talking Statues, and Other Enrichment Techniques that Engage Students with the Text. NY: Scholastic, Inc., 2002. This book has many ideas that deepen reading strategies such as activating prior knowledge, inferring, visualizing, making connections, and more.
Why the Arts?: Building the Case
This bibliography provides a range of sources for building a compelling case for the role of arts in education.
- Arts Education Partnership. What School Leaders Can Do To Increase Arts Education. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership, 2011. This brochure-length guide offers three concrete actions school principals can take to increase arts education in their schools. Each action is supported with several low-cost or no-cost strategies that other school leaders have used and found to be effective. Accessible at http://www.aep-arts.org/publications/info.htm?publication_id=36 (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- ___________________. Making a Case for the Arts: How and Why the Arts are Critical to Student Achievement and Better Schools. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership, 2006. This brochure highlights the benefits of arts education based on new research published by the Arts Education Partnership. Accessible at http://www.aep-arts.org/publications/info.htm?publication_id=25 (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- ___________________. Why Your Child Needs the Arts Advantage and How You can Gain it. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership, 2000. This brochure highlights the findings of the two-year study, “Gaining the Arts Advantage: Lessons from School Districts that Value Arts Education” which identifies interrelating factors that contribute to the creation of strong, district-wide arts education. Accessible at http://www.aep-arts.org/files/publications/WhyYourChildNeedstheArts.pdf (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- Davis, Jessica Hoffmann. Why Our Schools Need the Arts. NY: Teachers College Press, 2008. This book offers a justification for the benefits achieved by teaching the arts to students.
- Driver, C.E. “Can the Arts Become Part of the ‘Basics’ of our Public Education?” In Thought Leader Forum on Arts and Education: Assuring Equitable Arts Learning in Urban K-12 Public Schools. Report of conference hosted by Grantmakers in the Arts and Grantmakers for Education. Seattle, WA: Grantmakers in the Arts, 2010. Acccessible at http://www.giarts.org/sites/default/files/2010_thought-leader-forum-on-arts-education.pdf (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- Eisner, Elliot W. The Arts and the Creation of Mind. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002. Eisner makes the case that the arts are critically important means for developing complex and subtle aspect of the mind. Eisner describes how various forms of thinking are evoked, developed and refined through the arts.
- Fowler, Charles. Strong Arts, Strong Schools: The Promising Potential and the Shortsighted Desregard of the Arts in American Schooling. NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.
- Gardner, Howard. Five Minds for the Future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006. This book examines five minds that will command a premium in the years ahead: the disciplinary mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind.
- Hetland, Lois, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veenema, and Kimberly M. Sheridan. Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. NY: Teachers College Press, 2007. This book provides research on the “habits of mind” that are instilled by studying visual arts.
- Jensen, Eric. Arts with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. This book presents a case, uses research about the brain and learning for making arts a core part of the basic curriculum and thoughtfully integrating them into every subject.
- McCarthy, Kevin F., Elizabeth H. Ondaaje, Laura Zakaras, and Arthur Brooks. Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2004. The authors underscore the importance of sustained involvement in the arts to the achievement of both instrumental and intrinsic benefits. Accessible at http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG218.html (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools, Washington, DC, May 2011. This report details the powerful role that arts education strategies can play in closing the achievement gap, improving student engagement, and building creativity and nurturing innovative thinking skills. Accessible at www.pcah.gov. (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- Rabkin, Nick. Looking for Mr. Good Argument: The Arts and the Search for a Leg to Stand on in Public Education. In Thought Leader Forum on Arts and Education: Assuring Equitable Arts Learning in Urban K-12 Public Schools. Report of conference hosted by Grantmakers in the Arts and Grantmakers for Education. Seattle, WA: Grantmakers in the Arts, 2010. Accessible at http://www.giarts.org/sites/default/files/2010_thought-leader-forum-on-arts-education.pdf
- Remer, Jane. Beyond Enrichment: Building Effective Arts Partnerships with Schools and Your Community. New York: American Council for the Arts, 1996. This book makes a case for connections between the schools and cultural agencies to accomplish a rich education in the arts that neither could accomplish alone.
- Robinson, Ken. Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative. West Sussex, UK: Capstone Publishing, Ltd. 2011. This extensively revised and updated version of Robinsons’ book Out of our Minds, offers an approach to understanding creativity in education and business.
- Rich, Barbara, Jane L. Polin, and Stephen J. Marcus (eds). Acts of Achievement: The Role of Performing Art Centers in Education, NY: Dana Press, 2003. This publication provides the first study of K-12 education programs offered by performing arts centers nationwide and showcases 74 performing art center institutions, large and small, partnering with their local schools. Accessible at http://www.dana.org/news/publications/publication.aspx?id=8074 (Retrieved 1/3/12)
The Arts and School Reform
- Fineberg, Carol. Creating Islands of Excellence: Arts Education as a Partner in School Reform. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004. This book underscores how the integration of arts-based instruction can create powerful moments in and out of the classroom and offers advice on creating local arts-in-education reform initiatives, establishing arts partnerships, creating and evaluating school conditions that foster the arts, and using the arts as a tool for instruction and assessment.
- Fineberg, Carol, ed. Planning an Arts-Centered School: A Handbook. NY: Dana Press, 2002. This collection of papers aims to define the variety of teaching frameworks that makes it possible to plan an arts-centered school. It is meant to facilitate the development of a promising infusion of the arts into education throughout the United States. Accessible at http://www.dana.org/news/publications/publication.aspx?id=8076 (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- Nelson, Andrew L. The Art of Collaboration: Promising Practices for Integrating the Arts and School Reform. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership, 2008. This publication focuses on the implementation and practice of eight demonstration sites participating in The Ford Foundation’s Integrating the Arts and Education Reform Initiative. Accessible at http://aep-arts.org/publications/info.htm?publication_id=35 (Retrieved 1/3/12)
- Noblit, George W., H. Cickson Corbett, Bruce L. Wilson, and Monica B. McKinney. Creating and Sustaining Arts-Based School Reform. NY: Routledge, 2009. This book offers explores how the inclusion of the arts into the identify of a school can be key to it’s resilience. Based on the A+ School sProgram, the book offers an example of an arts-based school reform effort.
- Remer, Jane. Changing Schools through the Arts: How to Build on the Power of an Idea. New York: American Council for the Arts, 1990. This publication establishes a case and offers strategies for establishing a firm place for the arts in schools.
- Thompson, Mary Jo, with Becca Barniskis. Artful Teaching and Learning: Student Achievement through the Arts. Minneapolis, MN: ARTFUL Teaching & Learning. 2005. This handbook outlines an arts education model for student achievement through the arts. Accessible at http://www.mcae.k12.mn.us/pdr/HANDBOOK6_7.pdf (Retrieved 1/3/12)