Art integration as school culture change: A cultural ecosystem approach to faculty development
Charland, W. (2011). Art integration as school culture change: A cultural ecosystem approach to faculty development. International Journal of Education and the Arts, 12, (8), 1-17.
The researcher used an applied form of action research to evaluate the implementation of an arts integrated curriculum in a K-6 magnet elementary school. The school implemented Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a pedagogical practice designed to facilitate and encourage aesthetic development; higher-order thinking skills such as critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving; and verbal and written communication. The school fully implemented the VTS arts integration pedagogical practice through a series of phases beginning with teacher training and progressing to peer coaches training teachers in other schools. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with focus groups and recorded evidence of student learning through anecdotal reports. In addition to examining the phases of implementation, the researcher found that VTS strategies positively impacted student achievement and teacher practice in other subjects.
Teachers who used VTS regularly reported noticing their students offered more detailed analyses when discussing art works. This attention and communication of detail transferred to other subject areas as the students became more explicit in speaking and writing and contributed more to classroom discussions.
When students began to generate knowledge during VTS lessons rather than simply receive it, teachers began to see the educational process as less didactic and more student-centered and open-ended. The student engagement exhibited during VTS lessons encouraged teachers’ comfort levels, and the VTS program became further ingrained in the school culture as a result of teachers’ more frequent implementation.
Teachers reported noticing a growth in students’ communication skills, which included advanced depths during discussions, the ability to build on other ideas and respectfully critique their peers, and a greater comfort in sharing ideas.
As teachers became more comfortable and confident with implementing VTS arts-integration, they began to apply the approach to teaching other subjects outside of art.