Anderson, Alida. “Dance/Movement Therapy’s Influence on Adolescents Mathematics, Social-Emotional and Dance Skills.” The Educational Forum79, no. 3 (2015): 230-47.


In the study, dance movement therapy (DMT) was integrated into mathematics and social-emotional skill instruction for seventh-grade students diagnosed with learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities and/or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Students who participated in these integrated activities over a one-month period demonstrated improved performance in mathematics, dance arts and social-emotional dimensions of learning, such as motivation, engagement, attention and self-regulation. The study also discusses implications for teaching and learning with special populations.

Key Findings:

The researcher’s analysis of student outcomes related to mathematics, social-emotional, and dance movement skills indicated positive association between participation and gains in these areas. Additionally, students and teachers both reported increased interest, enthusiasm and engagement in mathematics learning during DMT integrated lessons.

Significance of the Findings:

The triangulated findings of this research indicated that student interest, enthusiasm and engagement increased from the integration of DMT in the mathematics classroom, indicating that DMT contributed to student’s social and academic learning. This is significant because students with learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and emotional behavioral disabilities often present anxiety about learning math. Through the DMT method, students demonstrated improved attitudes in self-esteem and self-regulation, meeting their IEP goals.


The researcher collected data through videotaped observations; interviews; language sampling; student generated worksheets; and rubric scores on mathematics, DMT and social-skills learning. The researchers conducted the interviews with teachers and students who provided information about their attitudes towards mathematics learning and dance movement arts activities. The researcher observed and analyzed movement activities using videotaped of lessons. Two teachers who were blind to the experiment viewed the videotaped lessons and used a set rubric to measure student progress in mathematics, DMT and social-skills learning.

Student learning in mathematics was measured through assessments and self-reporting by students and teachers through a set rubric before, during and after DMT-mathematics integrated activities. Additional data was gathered from student worksheets, where the student reported on the activities they engaged in during the day, as well as their thoughts and feelings toward the dance movement experience.

Limitations of the Research:

The study had a short duration. The author acknowledged that the causal relationship between DMT, math and social-emotional learning was based upon gains made during a four-week study, with daily instruction of one hour per day, which is not enough time to accurately generalize the effects.

The study does not delineate the specific variables of what each of the individual affects upon the individual students are within the study, thus limiting the potential of the research to be generalized.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Could the arts integration examined in the study have similar effects on other student populations, for example gifted students, low-socioeconomic status students or students with other learning disabilities not examined in the study?