Art Integration: the Effects and a Few Implementation Strategies

By Kaldia Nigh

Art is a topic that is usually looked at as “just for fun.” That however is not true. There are so many benefits of utilizing the arts into your classroom. According to Gurnon, Voss-Andreae, and Stanley (2013) art helps foster creativity, observational skills, and self-expression. Art also fosters something that many do not realize; it encourages the growth of one’s critical thinking skills. Why are these characteristics important? Well for example the core subject of science requires good critical thinking, open-mindedness, creativity, and observational skills, many of which are encouraged by art. Also, creativity and self-expression can benefit a student’s ability to write a narrative. Therefore, why not integrate art into the core subjects in our classrooms?

Now let’s look at some of the effects for our students. According to a study conducted by Baker (2013) art integration promotes cognitive development. Robinson (2013) found that art integration helps students develop their cognitive skills and retain further content knowledge. Melnick, Witmer, and Strickland (2011) discovered that students who participated in art integrated lessons had higher math and reading scores, compared to their peers that were not exposed to art as often. All of these researchers have similar findings. So to sum it all up, art integration fosters a wider variety of growth in our students. I, myself, have found that when art integration occurs in the classroom the students’ interest and motivation skyrockets.

To make art integration easier, I have come up with a few strategies in order to assist you in your classroom:

Science

  • If you are participating in inquiry based lessons or even having the students do some form of experiment, try having them draw their observations instead of only writing them.
  • When learning about scientific topics, design art projects that helps relate and tie the material together.

Language Arts

  • After reading through readers’ theater, have students act it out, either in small groups or as a class.
  • Once the students have finished reading a book as a class, have the students create a visual representation of either how they see the main character, or what they believe the theme of the story is.
    • Also you could have the students create “Book Covers” for a story that you have read. Encourage them to create something that would entice other students to read that book.

 

STEAM

  • Conduct a STEAM drawing. Begin by have 5 large pieces of either poster or chart paper. Draw the letters S T E A M on each piece. Pick out a few example images/drawings of things that represent each subject: science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Have the students split up into groups and draw images within the letters or posters that represent that subject. When you put them together, they will express how these topics all are integrated together. It is a great art activity that peaks interest in all of these important core subjects.

Tips:

  • Start off small, until you feel comfortable.
  • Give students options.
  • Remember that art can be integrated into all subjects.
  • Art is not just drawing, it can also be dance, music, theater, etc.
  • Share your art integration ideas with your coworkers.
  • Remind students that all art is beautiful!

References

Baker, D. (2013). Art integration and cognitive development. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 9(1), 1-15.

Gurnon, D., Voss-Andreae, J., & Stanley, J. (2013). Integrating art and science in undergraduate education. PLOS Biology, 11(2), 1-4. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001491

Melnick, S. A., Witmer, J. T., & Strickland, M. J. (2011). Cognition and student learning through the arts. Arts Education Policy Review, 112, 154-162. DOI: 10.1080/10632913.2011.566100

Robinson, A. H. (2013). Arts integration and the success of disadvantaged students: a research evaluation. Arts Education Policy Review, 114, 191-204. DOI: 10.1080/10632913.2013.826050

 

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