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In this mixed-method study the researcher sought to explore answers to the following research questions:

What is the effect of an arts integration approach on diverse freshman students’ perceptions of learning, motivation/engagement, school attendance, and academic achievement?Are there changes that occur in the quality of classroom instructional processes, including emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support when an arts integration approach is being utilized?

As a quasi-experimental mixed-method study, the study utilized observations, focus groups, student questionnaires, field notes, and data obtained from the NYC IRB on student attendance, student demographics, and academic achievement data in a diverse high school in NYC public schools where 90% of the students were classified as non-white students. Among the 231 participating freshman students, 3% were part of the ELL program (n = 4); 22% of the students had some disability (n = 41); and the majority of the students were receiving a free or reduced lunch (n = 111, 61%). One of the 9th grade academies was selected as the control group and another as the treatment group. Teachers in the treatment group received a limited amount of professional development on arts integration using a small group project based implementation approach. Results indicate that the teachers in the treatment group increased levels of instructional support and differentiated learning formats in their classroom as compared to the teachers in the control group. Additionally, students in the treatment group outperformed the control group students in 3 out of the 4 subject area achievement outcomes that were compared. There was no significant difference found in student attendance between the control and treatment group students even though a snowstorm and a hurricane occurred during the semester this study was implemented. Data from the student questionnaires, the focus groups, field notes, and observations was triangulated and supported the quantitative data. The qualitative data provided a deeper understanding on how the experience had impacted student’s self-beliefs and emotional engagement. Additionally, there was a significant increase in their behavioral engagement that was both observed and self-reported by students. This study makes a significant contribution to research identifying which aspects of instructional support seem to increase when teachers implement arts integration. Additionally, it extends other arts integration research examining diverse/disadvantaged student engagement and achievement even when adversity is experienced in a school.

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Journal for Learning through the Arts, v. 13, issue 1

© 2017 by the author(s).

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