Found in Translation: Interdisciplinary Arts Integration in Project AIM
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Found in Translation: Interdisciplinary Arts Integration in Project AIM


This paper will share the arts-integration methodology used in Project AIM and address the question; “How is translation evident in interdisciplinary arts instruction, and how does it affect students?”


The staff and researchers from Project AIM, (an arts-integration program of the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago), have collected data through student surveys and interviews and teacher and teaching artist interviews to research arts integration as a process of translation. The evaluation team observed planning sessions and classroom instruction, reviewed unit plans, assessment rubrics, instructional handouts and artifacts of student work. Data collection was focused on six of the thirty-two residencies that took place in Project AIM during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. Residencies were selected to ensure variability in terms of art and academic disciplines included in the residency, grade level and school.

The process of translation--making meaning across languages of learning and mediums of expression--has informed our data collection and analysis. We have borrowed the terms source language and target language from the field of second language instruction. Just as a translator searches for words/phrases in a target language to express words/phrases in a source language, Project AIM students search for words/images/gestures/sounds in a target discipline to express what they know in a source discipline. These translations across mediums of expression serve to deepen understanding across content areas.

Key Findings

Our research has found:

Teachers and teaching artists’ development of three specific translation approaches: scaffolded, multi-representational and interwoven, with each methodology serving different identified needs of instruction.A statistically significant increase in student learning across four variables measuring higher order thinking skills.When I am going to create something, I can make a plan.I can invent a new way of doing a project.I can create something that represents my ideas.I can understand many different points of view about the same subject.


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