Schlaack, N. and J. Simpson Steele. (2018). The Collaborative Residency Project: The Influence of Co-Teaching on Professional Development in Arts Integration. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 19(11).
The Collaborative Residency program offered classroom teachers an intensive course of study through collaborative work with teaching artists as they co-planned and co-taught arts-integrated science units. Participants in this study experienced educational advantages of teaching through the arts to help students gain, acquire and construct understanding. The results of this study highlight the interdependence of classroom teachers’ personal beliefs, behaviors and their environment, as well as the benefits of strong institutional support to Provide classroom teachers with resources so that they can continue their work in arts integration. This study focuses on influences of change in classroom teacher beliefs and behaviors after participating in professional development focused on arts-integration teaching strategies and through collaborative work with teaching artists. Teaching artists provided complementary teaching skills to support learning experiences in, through and about the arts.
Teachers reported observing how arts integration heightened student engagement, supported social and emotional learning, and activated creative problem solving. When study participants experienced these shifts in their students, their self-efficacy grew, and they embraced changes in their practice.
Teachers implemented a pedagogy focused on constructivist learning, supported by scaffolding and formative assessment. Teaching through the arts helped teachers to continue to support diversity in student learning and accommodate students’ individual strengths and abilities.
The introduction of the teaching artist into a classroom environment had the strongest positive influence on classroom teachers’ beliefs and behaviors. The collaboration among teachers and teaching artists provided active participation within specific integrated content, curriculum planning, modeling of teaching techniques, coaching and feedback on student learning outcomes.
Significance of the Findings:
This professional development model positively influenced the teachers’ competence and confidence to integrate the arts. This study described educational advantages of teaching through the art, including benefits to teachers’ personal perceptions, instructional behaviors and t perceptions of a positive effect on their students. As many studies on arts integration focus more generally on student outcomes, this study shares outcomes for educators and helps fill a gap in existing research. Additionally, the study identifies barriers to the success of arts integration models, such as a lack of administrative or institutional support. The addition of trained and certified arts educators to the collaboration may also yield beneficial information. While the results of this study are not necessarily generalizable, the findings do highlight teacher training and professional development in arts integration that could be used as a basis to replicate and further study best practices in arts integration for teachers, teaching artists and students.
Multiple case studies were used as a method that were bounded by participation in a specific arts integration training called Collaborative Residency, as well as in that all participants collaborated with trained teaching artists. Albert Banduras’ social cognitive theory was employed as a theoretical and organizational framework to ground analysis of narrative and observational findings. Participants (n=6 teachers) were chosen from a purposeful sampling. Data were gathered and triangulated across different sources and issues of validity and reliability were addressed.
Limitations of the Research:
The study focused on the observation and experiences of six teachers, with individual teaching styles, strengths, dispositions and personal educational goals. As each teacher individualized their approach to arts-integrated instruction, this may make replicating these findings difficult with another set of participants. While the researchers used a purposeful sampling to differentiate the participants as much as possible, the specific context of the location (Hawaii) and the limited number of teachers in the study may make the findings hard to generalize across a larger, broader audience.
This study states that arts integration should not and cannot replace arts instruction in discrete arts disciplines, and that there were no arts specialist teachers participating in this design.
Questions to Guide New Research:
Future studies might compare the practices of classroom teachers who have engaged with high-quality, arts integration professional development in multiple iterations with those who have participated once. From this study, we can propose the hypothesis that repeated engagement is less important than self-efficacy or environmental factors. In addition, a longitudinal investigation regarding classroom teachers’ reasons for ongoing professional development in arts integration or reasons for discarding the practices could provide further insight into the factors that support or hinder change over time. Another question that developed from this study could examine the potential influence of arts integration pedagogy in other areas of teaching.