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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Introduction to Issue 12

This issue celebrates the diversity of artistic experience by offering four pairs of articles that offer contrasting perspectives on pivotal issues.

Teaching and Learning through the Arts

Noncognitive Factors in an Elementary School-Wide Arts Integrated Model

Pomaika‘i Elementary School has answered a call to improve education by providing content instruction through the arts. How does school wide arts integration in an elementary setting support students as they transition to middle school? This bounded case study examines the experiences of eight families through a series of interviews with students, parents, and teachers. It describes and explains learning through the arts within three overarching noncognitive factors: a) academic mindsets, or the psychological and socially related attitudes a student holds with respect to academic goals; b) learning strategies that support thinking, remembering, or understanding concepts; and c) social skills or inter-personal behaviors such as interacting through cooperation, assertion and empathy. This study concludes that noncognitive factors provide a valuable lens for examining preparation for college, career and community readiness, with arts integrated learning as a viable pedagogy to that end.

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Off the wall. Teacher perceptions of an arts integrated school and its student population. A case study

This paper, derived from a larger case study, presents new perspectives on arts-integrated elementary schools. It focusses on several issues including teacher understandings of arts-integrated pedagogy, willingness to collaborate, arts credentials, and teacher perceptions of those students enrolling from outside catchment area. Hence it raises the question as to whether school districts should consider new policies specific to arts-integrated schools for both students enrolling, and teaching staff.   As a teacher-administrator at Mosaic for several years, the researcher became interested in the motivations for student enrollments from outside of Mosaic's catchment area.  Through interviews with educators and parents, the case study investigates perceptions and motivations for student enrollments.  This paper's focus is the analysis of interviews with Mosaic educators: their understandings and perspectives on arts-integrated pedagogy, student profiles, and their own valuing of the arts.

Arts and Sciences

Using Arts Integration to Make Science Learning Memorable in the Upper Elementary Grades: A Quasi-Experimental Study

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have brought a stronger emphasis on engineering into K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) instruction. Introducing the design process used in engineering into science classrooms simulated a dialogue among some educators about adding the arts to the mix. This led to proposals for a STEAM (STEM + arts) curriculum, as well as warnings that integrating the arts would weaken STEM instruction. The study summarized in this article tested the hypothesis that the arts might provide upper-elementary students, who were still concrete thinkers, with a powerful means of envisioning phenomena that they could not directly observe. This study investigated the impact of STEAM lessons on physical science learning in grades 3 to 5. Ten out of the 55 high-poverty (Title 1) elementary schools in a large urban district were randomly chosen as treatment schools and divided into two cohorts. Using a quasi-experimental design that holds general student scientific achievement constant, the study found that students exposed to the STEAM lessons demonstrated greater improvement on physical science benchmark assessments than students exposed to a STEM-only physical science curriculum.

“Methods and Models for Museum Learning at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art”

Recent education policy designed to promote arts education tends to focus on how such curriculum supports “skills for innovation” required for success in the global economy.  Emphasis on the transfer of arts-based learning to professional innovation and achievement, a dynamic that is difficult to determine, can undermine the  value of teaching the arts for their own sake.  Three professors at the State University of New York at New Paltz discuss curriculum they developed to take advantage of museum learning opportunities that promote critical thinking, foster innovation, support course content, and increase students’ sense of citizenship and belonging.  Jennifer Waldo, a professor of Biology, Dennis Doherty, a professor of English and Creative Writing, and Sarah Wyman, a professor of 20th century Comparative Literature, use their campus museum as an applied learning environment where they facilitate interdisciplinary, experiential educational activities that develop student agency and encourage imaginative inquiry.  The professors comment on their curriculum, their cross-disciplinary conversations, student reactions, and indicators of transfer.  In addition, they present a strategy for assessing student-learning outcomes within a context that values the visual arts as fundamental to liberal arts and sciences education.


Key words: museum, experiential learning, innovative models, citizenship, critical thinking.

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Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Tributes Beyond Words: Art Educators’ Use of Textiles to Memorialize the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

Through the study of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, pre-service art teachers learn the about interdisciplinary design and the importance of using discipline-specific literacy strategies alongside the materials and methods of their craft.  The creativity and enthusiasm with which these pre-service teachers approached the work convinced us that some type of “art-making” in any content area classroom can be a valuable way for students to construct meaning from text.

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Exposition and Synthesis of Benin Bronze Casting: Emphasis on the Olotan Casters of Benin


The introduction of Western education to Nigeria has brought in its wake great strides toward development. Changes in Benin dates far back to the dawn of the 20th century. This paper investigates the critical role of education in development. The paper integrates interview data collected from bronze casters in Benin. The first section of the paper discusses sustainable development in Nigeria involving an infrastructure that supports accessible educational system and Benin social values. The second part of the paper discusses the present dispensation of bronze casting by Olotan casters of Benin. The paper identifies education as being critical to sustainable development. Some characteristics connected to development in the practice of bronze casting in Benin include visioning, relaxing of age old practices and acceptance of western influences.

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Research Approaches

The Exclusion of the Creative Arts from Contracted School Curricula for Teaching the Common Core Standards

Many people would agree the creative arts are essential for children’s education and development. For years, the creative arts were integrated into classroom learning units, especially in the language arts, by using drama, music, and drawing; this was considered good teaching. In this study we examined whether contracted curricula designed for teaching the Common Core State Standards integrated the creative arts into English language arts units for grades 3, 6, and 9. Using content analysis as the method, findings indicate the creative arts are largely absent from these curricula. We argue that school districts with limited financial resources will likely adopt the contracted curricula, and their children will be further disadvantaged because they will not have opportunities to learn with the creative arts when participating in lessons designed to teach the Common Core.


Developing the Model of "Pedagogical Art Communication" Using Social Phenomenological Analysis: an Introduction to a Research Method and an Example for its Outcome

Social phenomenological analysis is presented as a research method for musem and art education. After explaining its methodological background, it is shown how this method has been applied in a study of gallery talks or guided tours in art museums: Analyzing the situation by description and interpretation, a model for understanding gallery talks is developed: "Pedagogical Art Communication".

Results: The interplay among the recipient group, the aesthetic object, and educator is characterized by the participants acquiring (i.e. by aesthetic experience) and the educator imparting (especially) knowledge. In the future, art education and museum education need to focus less on dissolving this difference (in the sense of "methods that work") and spend more time on finding ways of sensibly dealing with the difference between imparting and acquirement of art. So the practice would be a pedagogical art communication in which art educators impart what can be imparted (to the extent that it is "impartable"), while at the same time stimulating and enabling the acquirement of knowledge – and, at a broader level, coordinating the interplay of imparting and acquirement in social, performative and spatial dimensions.

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Performing Arts

Masks in Pedagogical Practice

In Drama Education mask work is undertaken and presented as both a methodology and knowledge base. There are numerous workshops and journal articles available for teachers that offer knowledge or implementation of mask work. However, empirical examination of the context or potential implementation of masks as a pedagogical tool remains undeveloped.



On a theoretical level, throughout both ancient and modern drama education and performance, masks have been seen as synonymous to the field of drama. The mask is an iconic theatrical symbol from the times of Socrates to Modern western theatres. Simply put, masks symbolise the adoption of the role and hold a central place in drama across time and culture.  Within Drama (as a field in itself), the use of mask have been used by influential drama theorists explicitly in specialist drama training. In schools, however, whilst referenced in official curricula internationally, there is no formal development of pedagogies for mask use in Drama, and little to no research in its potential impact upon the enacted curriculum.


This paper presents some methodologies of ‘how’ to apply masks offered through presenting theoretical, historical knowledge contexts. Two teacher workshops in mask application and pedagogical potentials is also further discussed.

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US History Skits: Just a Spoonful of Sugar

Author suggests incorporation of brief, informal, yet content-rich classroom history skits as a way to motivate students, generate interest, and ease them into the more "academic" content found in textbooks and primary source documents.