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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Introduction to a Sampling of Arts Integration Research

This contribution provides an overview of the articles featured in the 9th volume of the Journal for Learning through the Arts.

Performing Arts

Historic and Ethnic Music Found to Increase Geographic Understanding: A Quasi-Experimental Study

This article summarizes a quasi-experimental study, which demonstrated that integration of historic and ethnic music into the American history curriculum may lead to increased knowledge of the cultural and physical geography of the United States as well as enhanced student engagement.

An experiment (n=215) conducted with eighth grade students investigated the effect that implementing supplementary music history workshops had on student attitudes and understanding of geographic concepts. Two instruments were used as pre-post tests: the Standards-Based Geography Test, Intermediate Level, from the National Council for Geographic Education and the Test of Geography-Related Attitudes. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that students in the treatment group showed greater growth in geographic knowledge (effect size=.854) and more positive attitudes toward geography (effect size=.569).


Critical Thinking and School Music Education: Literature Review, Research Findings, and Perspectives

The most up-to-date validations of educational praxis propose that teachers and learners should engage together in a process of understanding life and the world, should share their anxieties and their problematic issues, look for solutions, make plans for action, express themselves creatively and take a critical stance toward every new datum before accepting it as knowledge. For many years, the dominant view was that the study of certain subject areas--and nothing else--was sufficient to promote students’ critical thinking skills. This conviction was overturned by John Dewey, who pointed out that any school subject may promote critical thinking if teachers base their teaching on challenges and issues presented for investigation, as well as encouraging reflection. As music offers the repeated challenge of situations in which there is no standard or approved answer, it can promote critical thinking. This article presents a review of the literature on the definition of critical thinking, points out the importance of the promotion of critical thinking in general education as well as in art and music education, and, finally, proposes for the teaching and learning of music a framework of applications within which critical thinking skills may be developed.






Elementary Teachers Integrate Music Activities into Regular Mathematics Lessons: Effects on Students’ Mathematical Abilities

This article presents exploratory research investigating the way teachers integrate music into their regular mathematics lessons as well as the effects of music-mathematics interdisciplinary lessons on elementary school students’ mathematical abilities of modeling, strategy and application. Two teachers and two classes of first grade and third grade students (n=46) participated in the present study. The two teachers designed and implemented music activities as an integrated part of their regular mathematics lessons across five weeks. Results demonstrated that both teachers integrated a variety of music activities with different mathematical content. The music-math interdisciplinary lessons had positive effects on multiple mathematical ability areas.

Arts and Sciences

The Scientific Method and the Creative Process: Implications for the K-6 Classroom

Science and the arts might seem very different, but the processes that both fields use are very similar. The scientific method is a way to explore a problem, form and test a hypothesis, and answer questions. The creative process creates, interprets, and expresses art. Inquiry is at the heart of both of these methods. The purpose of this article is to show how the arts and sciences can be taught together by using their similar processes which might improve student engagement. Arts-integration research from the literature is discussed. Both the scientific method and the creative process are described through examples of scientists and artists in different areas. Detailed learning activities are presented that demonstrate how both the scientific method and the creative process can be implemented into the classroom. Two activities are appropriate for elementary-aged children, grades K-3, while the other activities are geared for intermediate school-aged students, grades 4-6. All activities are written where either a science educator or arts educator could utilize the lessons.


Rocking your Writing Program: Integration of Visual Art, Language Arts, & Science

This paper explores the integration of art, literacy and science in a second grade classroom, showing how an integrative approach has a positive and lasting influence on student achievement in art, literacy, and science. Ways in which art, science, language arts, and cognition intersect are reviewed. Sample artifacts are presented along with their analysis to show how students learn in an integrated unit that incorporates visual art as a key component. While we recognize the importance of art as a unique domain, this research demonstrates how integration of visual art, literacy, and science content creates an effective curriculum benefiting all students.

Medical Humanities

My Body, My World: Illness and Identity in Alice Walker’s "Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self"

Writing Center faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina teach humanities courses in which we include literary texts that are not ostensibly “about health care” to introduce to students how unique an illness narrative can be—to challenge, in fact, preconceived notions student may have about what “counts” as a healthcare narrative. One narrative we teach is Alice Walker’s “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self." Walker’s account provides opportunities to examine how injury and illness can affect one over the course of a lifetime, contributing to the formation and constant renegotiation of identity from childhood to adulthood. This paper describes the method by which we have taught Walker’s story to engage students on these topics.


The Mindful Physician and Pooh

Resident physicians are particularly susceptible to burnout due to the stresses of residency training. They also experience the added pressures of multitasking because of the increased use of computers and mobile devices while delivering patient care. Our Family Medicine residency program addresses these problems by teaching residents about the mindful practice of medicine. We utilize A. A. Milne’s classic children’s books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, along with Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh to explain Dr. Ron Epstein’s four habits of mindfulness: attentive observation, critical curiosity, beginner’s mind, and presence. We also use video clips from two Disney movies, The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and A Day for Eeyore as well as Kenny Loggins’ song, House at Pooh Corner. With Winnie-the-Pooh’s help, residents learn how to become more mindful physicians by incorporating Epstein’s four habits of mindfulness into their daily practice.





Teaching and Learning through the Arts

Can Architects Help Transform Public Education? What the Sarasota County Civic School Building Program (1955-1960) Teaches Us

The Sarasota County School Building Program 1955-1960 is revisited through a detailed examination of how architects and educators collaborated to design an innovative group of public schools that provided opportunities for the transformation of learning space. This multi-dimensioned examination is grounded in an historical contextualization of the school building program; in visual and discursive archival analysis related to four of the schools considered especially notable; and in the integration of contemporary voices of some of the teachers, students, and educational employees who worked in these schools. A concluding section discusses four key lessons of this artistic-educational collaboration that might be fruitful for educators to ponder as they seek to create the kinds of learning environments that optimize students’ educational experience.

Can We Use Creativity to Improve Generic Skills in our Higher Education Students? A Proposal Based on Non-Verbal Communication and Creative Movement

Traditionally, general skills and personal growth have been developed through cognitive processes within academic contexts. Development based on experience may be an alternative route to achieve cognitive knowledge. Enact-learning is based on the biunivocal relationship between knowledge and action. Action is movement. Participants interact with their environment through movement. When participants are aware of this interaction, knowledge is created.

First interactions in personal development with the environment are non-verbal. Returning to this concept, we propose work based on creative movement and non- verbal communication. This approach takes into account the multiple intelligences paradigm in order to generate knowledge.

This paper seeks to explain a movement development program that has been applied to freshman students studying in different academic areas. The program design is explained in detail. The article demonstrates how the program has helped to develop the participants' body consciousness. The students' reflections are analyzed using a qualitative methodology. A questionnaire focused on the students' perceptions of the connections between general skills and the program rounds out the research results.


Poetic Praxis: Engaging Body, Mind, and Soul in the Social Foundations Classroom

Across the space of this paper I seek to share a particular attempt to holistically engage students enrolled in a Social Foundations of Education course, in the process of de(con)structing knowledge, through the work of collectively creating found poetry. I do not seek to show right pedagogical practice; rather, it is my hope that this paper may offer a glimpse of the possibilities that exist when we embrace arts-informed epistemological practices that acknowledge the whole student, engaging the mind/body/soul in praxis, through acts of fluid co-creation and (re)construction of knowledge.

Arts Integration: What is Really Happening in the Elementary Classroom?

Researching how Arts Integration is practiced in a primary school, this article explores how elementary teachers understand, implement, and experience Arts Integration. Weaving together personal experiences, teacher interviews, focus group sessions, classroom observations, and written texts, I investigate how the arts are often devalued in Arts Integration. Not only are the arts used for decorative purposes, but the arts component in Arts Integration is greatly diluted as well. Addressing what can be done to attend to the problem of devaluing the arts in the classroom, this essay holds implications for teacher education, Arts Integration and curriculum development.





Art Integration and Cognitive Development

The arts have long been valued for their aesthetic contributions to education, and studies have been conducted to demonstrate their contribution to academic performance in an attempt to justify their inclusion in the curriculum. Art integration involves learning core content subjects (math, reading, language, science, social studies) through the arts (drama, dance, music, visual arts). The focus of this qualitative pilot study was to examine and describe how the arts are integrated with curriculum concepts to promote cognitive development. The theororetical framework was based on standard theory of intelligence and cognitive development. Curriculum concepts were taught through experiential methods and hands-on projects integrated with state Standard Course of Study. Data collection consisted of field ethnographic description and passive observation to identify behavioral correlates of cognitive and intellectual functioning as well as to capture how state standards are integrated within arts-based instruction. Field notes were analyzed to look for patterns, themes, and defining categories for data analysis. The focus of domain analysis was guided by semantic, means-end relationships related to instruction, learning, and types of processing information, as well as products of that learning. Taxonomic analyses were created of thematic units and how the different arts were used breaking thematic units into arts used, instructional vehicles/ learning activities, and types of cognition being used. A guiding principle was, how does this relate to cognitive/intellectual development? Cognitive correlates were listed as a type of domain yielding examples of different types of cognitive and intellectual processing. Systematic field study was noteworthy for thematic instruction through which curriculum concepts were taught. Thematic-driven and project-based learning often additionally required students to use planning, researching, imagination related to an overall instructional objective. Analysis revealed multi-layered and complex domains within instructional delivery. Context and culture were running themes across observations. Thematic units provided vehicles for cognitive development that promoted vocabulary development, reasoning, comparing/ contrasting, abstraction, integration of concepts, and conceptual development. This information informs instructional delivery and the use of arts-based instruction to promote greater understanding of underlying development of cognitive and intellectual abilities in the classroom.

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