The perceived impact of an arts-integrated curriculum on the academic achievement of fifth- and sixth-grade students with disabilities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Eleni Vasso Fragakis (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kathy Hytten

Abstract: Teachers’ instructional methods are not meeting the unique learning needs of students with disabilities. Drawing on the arts is one possible beneficial avenue for these students to engage and develop content area understanding. In this exploratory qualitative case study, I listened to four educators and seven fifth- and sixth-grade students as they explained their interactions of teaching and learning content area standards through the arts. I interviewed these participants and collected work samples from two different arts-infused units, one in math and one in social studies. In contrast to much of the current literature, I drew heavily on student voice in gathering perspectives on their work samples and their interactions with the arts. The overall finding was that integrating the arts into content lessons is a promising strategy for students with disabilities to have equal learning opportunities. After creating and implementing arts-integrated lessons, the classroom teachers assessed student understanding of the content area standards using two rubrics (one for the teacher to assess and one for each student to self-assess his or her work). The seven students were able to demonstrate their grade level content area learning through the arts, which was uncommon for these students through traditional methods. I found that the arts afford students the opportunities to experience learning content area standards differently, which led to an impact on student confidence. Although I studied a small sample in one arts-oriented school, I establish preliminary findings in the field of arts-integrated teaching that show that using the arts to help students with disabilities understand content area standards yields much promise.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Arts-infused curriculum, Arts integration, Content areas, Students with disabilities, Visual arts
Art in education
Visual learning
Individualized instruction
Interdisciplinary approach in education
Students with disabilities $x Education (Elementary)

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