Steele, J. S. (2017). Noncognitive Factors in an Elementary School-Wide Arts Integrated Model. Journal for Learning through the Arts: A Research Journal on Arts Integration in Schools and Communities, 12(1).


The case study focuses on Pomaika’I Elementary School. The school implemented a school-wide art-integration model that incorporates arts instruction into all aspects of students’ coursework. This study explores whether the elementary school’s arts-integration model helped support students as they transitioned to middle school. The author studied noncognitive factors, including feelings, attitudes, personality traits and behaviors, instead of standardized tests, to examine and explain the role of an arts-integrated education. The author interviewed students who attended elementary school at Pomaika’I ― in addition to teachers and parents ― and grouped the content based on patterns and themes. The author observed improvement in students in three overarching, noncognitive categories, academic mindsets, learning strategies and social skills.

Key Findings:

  • While participating in general school activities, Pomaika’I students were more driven, had higher self-esteem and experienced joy.
  • Students expressed appreciation for the variety of learning strategies they encountered, recognized the importance of visualizing content through the arts and demonstrated outside of the box problem solving through art tasks.
  • Students demonstrated improved social skills, including more self-confidence, a strong connection to classmates and family, and improved communication skills.

Significance of the Findings:

The findings showcase the benefits of an arts-integrated education and can serve as a resource for other schools and school districts considering implementing a similar model.


The case study focuses on graduates’ experiences. The research is based on thick description and grounded analysis.

Limitations of the Research:

  • The study focused on a single school in Hawaii and  interviewed just eight students. Additionally, the study focused mainly on subjective and anecdotal data.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Potential questions include:

The arts-integrated model appears to work, but it may prove beneficial to see how other schools have used this type of model with at-risk students or other student populations. Additionally, a similar study done at a larger school or in a different state would provide more concrete evidence.