Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Jennifer Putnam

Abstract

This qualitative, single case study explored teacher perceptions of arts integration practices in developing critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration (4 C’s) at a North Carolina A+ (arts-integrated) kindergarten through eighth grade charter school. A combination of interviews, document analysis, and site observations were utilized to answer the guiding question: What is the impact of a school-wide arts integration program on creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication? The research focused on three questions: (RQ1) What strategies/methods are used to implement a school-wide arts integration program at this school? (RQ2) What strategies/methods are used to foster student acquisition of the 4 C’s through arts integration at this school? (RQ3) What 21st century support systems align with the school-wide arts integration program at this school?

Data gathered from interviews, observations, and documents revealed common themes or practices implemented at the school to sustain the school-wide arts integration program: collaborative planning, leadership support, focus on the process of learning rather than the product, multiple learning pathways and measures of success, professional development, community partnerships and relationships, and reflection as a tool for growth. The arts integration strategies perceived by participants at the research site that promote the 4 C’s include student engagement in group projects, student self- and peer- analysis of artistic work, student creative choice, and student expression of knowledge through multiple art forms and mediums. The 21st century support systems of standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning environments were found to be in alignment with the arts integration support systems at the school site.

The results of this study led the researcher to conclude the school-wide practices of arts integration promote student acquisition of the 4 C’s. Recommendations include providing education preparation programs with redesigned curriculum offerings to emphasize the connection between the arts and 21st century skills, such as the 4 C’s. Adapting the school infrastructure to support collaborative planning, teaching, and professional development in arts integration practices that support the 4 C’s should also be considered.

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