Innovations High School header

About Us: Arts Integration Theory

Arts Integration is the primary instructional model at Innovations High School. Watch our Arts Integration video and visit our Arts Integration site to learn more about why this innovative way of learning is so successful with Innovations students.

Arts Integration Model
Arts integration is an instructional model that pairs an arts discipline with a traditional subject in order to enhance learning in both areas. According to Burnaford, Aprill, and Weiss (2001), “integration does not occur unless both the art form and the other academic subject(s) are taught so the students learn more than if they learned them separately” (p. 22). By integrating the arts, we seek to: 1) increase student motivation and attitudes toward learning, 2) support learning and increase student success in core academic subjects, and 3) organize integrated instruction around “big ideas” that enable students to make meaningful connections between concepts learned in different subject areas.

Research on Arts Integration
Arts integration is an effective instructional model for reaching high school students who are: 1) struggling with learning, 2) struggling with motivation, and 3) at risk of dropping out of high school. A study by DeMoss and Morris (2002) found that arts-integrated units created intrinsic motivation for learning; required students to use more complex learning processes such as thinking, judgment, and collaboration; presented students with “challenges” rather than “barriers” to learning; and prompted students to pursue learning opportunities outside of class. Additionally, students were found to be able to assess their own learning at deeper levels after participating in arts-integrated units (p. 17-20).

NCREL evaluated classrooms in Chicago who were working with Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) over a six-year period (Catterall, 1999). When compared to schools with similar demographics and comparable test score histories, CAPE schools outperformed non-CAPE schools on standardized tests in math and reading. Survey data indicated that 86 percent of high school students reported that they enjoyed lessons in the arts because they made learning fun (p. 51).

The CAPE Model
Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) establishes partnerships between teaching artists and schools for the purposes of bringing artists into classrooms to co-teach instructional units with classroom teachers, training classroom teachers in arts integration, and providing professional development that focuses on action research. CAPE’s model emphasizes inquiry-based instruction that provides students with meaningful learning activities connected to pre-established “big ideas.” As described by Burnaford et al. (2001), “big ideas” serve as “organizing principles that can help bridge separate curricular areas and reach students in intriguing new ways” (p. 34) and that students in arts-integrated classrooms “participate actively, use their hands as well as their minds, and make connections between what they are learning and what they are living” (p. 5).

Burnaford, G. E., Aprill, A., & Weiss, C. (Eds.). (2001). Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 1- 34.

Catterall, J.S., & Waldorf, L. (1999). Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education summary evaluation. Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, 47-62.

DeMoss, K. & Morris, T. (2002). How arts integration supports student learning: Students shed light on the connections.

Last update: September 20, 2012

© 2014-2018 Innovations High School. All Rights Reserved.