Cross-Study Findings: A View into a Decade of Arts Integration

Duma, A. L., & Silverstein, L. B. (2014). Cross-Study Findings: A View into a Decade of Arts Integration. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 10(1).

Abstract:

The Kennedy Center's CETA (Changing Education Through the Arts) program is a professional development partnership designed to support teachers' employment of arts integration practices in their classrooms. This study reviewed and compared the results of three evaluations conducted over the first decade of the program's implementation. In analyzing the results of this prior research, it found that the CETA program's professional development efforts were effective in enabling teachers to integrate the arts into classroom instruction, that teachers’ participation in the program had a positive impact on student learning and engagement, and that the program positively affected overall school culture. 

Key Findings:

The three evaluations, considered collectively, found:

  • Positive impact of the CETA program’s professional learning model on changing teachers’ practices and beliefs about arts integration and re-energizing their teaching. The analysis determined that the professional learning model was effective, mostly as a result of the quality of its structure and the sustained, ongoing nature of its delivery.
  • Positive impact of arts integration on student cognitive skills, engagement, and attitudes about learning, especially for low-performing students, diverse learners, and students with special needs. CETA involvement appears to be linked to improved grades and standardized test scores as well.
  • Positive impact of arts integration on transforming the whole school environment by creating a culture of collaboration.

Significance of the Findings:

This research provides an example of what it really takes to implement an arts integration program well. It can be used a resource for those looking for evidence of the positive impact of arts integration on teachers, students, and schools; or for those seeking evidence for what kinds of arts partnerships and teacher professional development are most effective in producing positive student and school-wide outcomes.

Methodology:

The first evaluation (Kruger, 2005) collected responses to annual surveys from seven participating teachers and six comparison teachers, with 725 students in the data set. A summary score of average responses to each question for each year was constructed to yield an overall implementation score. Student data records (demographics, report card grades, Virginia Standards of Learning scores, attendance) were supplied by the school district. Individual subject grades were collapsed into broader categories such as Academic Achievement and Academic Effort. The second evaluation (RealVisions, 2007) examined program delivery, both in terms of professional development for teachers and arts integrated instruction for students; outcomes for teachers and students; and the mechanisms that mediated between program delivery and outcomes. Subjects of the investigation included 101 teachers and 1478 students from three model schools and 1296 students from comparison schools. Researchers matched conditions between groups to ensure comparable demographic conditions including numbers of students with special needs, non-native English speakers, and students eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Data collection methods included observations, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and document analysis. The third study (Isenberg, et al., 2009) used a mix of data sources to analyze the effectiveness of the CETA program in relation to its goals and objectives. Subjects of the investigation included 160 teachers and four case study schools. Information was gathered and analyzed from a variety of sources: Document review (CETA program documents, school-level standardized test scores, and examples of student work); Observations (of professional development courses, coaching in classrooms, study group meetings);Focus group interviews; Annual surveys (teachers, school coordinators, guidance counselors, principals, assistant principals); and Case studies. Authors of the current study analyzed the resultant findings and summarized them into categories: the effectiveness of the CETA program design and its impact on teachers, students, and schools.

Limitations of the Research:

All three studies were limited by quasi-experimental sampling methods: teachers and students were not randomly assigned to schools participating in the CETA program. In all schools, too, there was a range of the amount of arts integration across individual teachers’ classrooms. Other limitations included small data sets (Kruger, 2005) and the inability to disaggregate test scores that had been compiled at the school level by individual teacher or students (Isenberg et al., 2009). A causal relationship between arts integration and the improved scores could not be definitively established.

Questions to Guide New Research:

This research raises questions about professional development, student learning, and school culture to guide future research: What are the effects of arts integration on teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning and on their own practices? What are the specific attributes of a successful learning relationship between a teaching artist and teacher? As teachers develop a level of expertise, what kind of professional development is most helpful in furthering their knowledge and skills? How does participation in arts integration impact learning and engagement of low socio-economic students, English Language Learners, and students with special needs? What does effective principal leadership look like in successful arts integration programs? What roles can arts integration teacher leaders play within their own school to support teachers newer to arts integration?