Mathematics through Movement: Arts Integration in Secondary Education
Donnelly, Caitlin E.
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Arts integration is defined as an approach to teaching and learning that uses the fine and performing arts as primary pathways to learning. Arts integration has been studied and in many cases proven to be more effective in capturing student’s attention and increasing their academic performance more so than traditional education. I developed a short lesson plan for high school students teaching the basic definitions of a college level Linear Algebra class using both no arts integration techniques and a lesson plan that taught the same definitions using arts integration through the use of dance choreography. I predicted that students would better grasp these complex definitions after the arts integration lesson, and enjoy learning the concepts more through arts integration. I used pretests and posttests to see if any gains in knowledge were made after the arts integration lesson. I also used a survey to see how enjoyable the arts integration lesson was to the students. Each student in my class showed increased interest in math, expressed that they could better visualize the math on the survey and overall showed increased grades on the questionnaires that I distributed. More classes or a longer duration of lessons using arts integration may expand these results even further. Arts integration is the movement where arts such as theatre, music, visual arts, poetry, music and dance are incorporated into education lesson plans for the content areas of mathematics, language arts, social studies and science. Arts integration is an approach to teaching that is grounded in the beliefs that learning is multidimensional. Arts integration is also aligned with the Constructivist Theory of Learning as well as research on experimental learning (Silverstein & Layne, 2010). Despite the history of arts integrated teaching, the use of arts integration in school systems is still minimal, especially in secondary education. This is due to limited knowledge of the importance and advantages of integrated teaching. This lack of research and awareness coincides with a lack of budgetary support. Less than 0.1% of the Department of Education’s $30 billion budget is allocated for arts education (Odleifson, 1994). There are limited resources not only for art integrated education but for education overall. Despite this bleak truth, many education administrators and educators, especially those of younger and upcoming generations, envision their schools utilizing arts integrated education.