McFerran, K. S., Crooke, A. H. D. and Bolger, L. “Promoting Engagement in School Through Tailored Music Programs.” International Journal of Education & the Arts, V. 18 No. 3 (2017): 1-29.


The abstract for this article, as well as the complete article, is available on the International Journal of Education & the Arts website.

Supports for the Findings:

Practitioners may benefit from the identification of music program characteristics that support school engagement. Well-structured programs with committed leadership and high expectations for students may be more likely to help students develop deeper relationships with their peers and other members of their school community. The study provides examples of specific program characteristics that reinforce school engagement which may benefit program developers, administrators, and teachers. Funders and policymakers can consider whether the identified program characteristics should be essential components of school music programs. Researchers can use the model of characteristics and engagement outcomes to design more rigorous studies that investigate the effect of program components on student engagement.

Implications of the Findings:

The study describes digital storytelling as an engaging tool that can be used in arts education and research and that may give voice to stories that may otherwise go untold. The authors suggest the use of digital storytelling as a form of transformative pedagogy elucidating meanings, identities and values of a particular population. These findings may inspire arts educators and researchers to use similar storytelling methods to highlight concerns of people and populations who are underrepresented because of systemic, inequitable practices and systems.

Limitations of the Findings:

The study was exploratory, with open-ended interviews as the primary data source. Therefore, continued research is needed to better understand the relationship between the program characteristics and various facets of student engagement in school. Considering the exploratory, qualitative approach, causal interpretations cannot be made and the study’s findings may not apply to other settings or participants. However, the interpretation could be useful to practitioners and other researchers seeking to investigate the conditions that support school engagement.


*This article is part of an expedited review cycle that AEP conducted in the spring of 2021. Members of the ArtsEdSearch Review Panel provided the content (edited by AEP staff) in this summary.