About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4498-4503
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain


B. Hughes1, R. Kalinowski1, D. Zinger1, A. Ray1, D. Grove2, D. Bailey1

1University of California, Irvine (UNITED STATES)
2Concordia University, Irvine (UNITED STATES)
Addressing science education needs for English Language Learners (ELLs) is critical. ELLs are a growing segment of the United States student population, comprising 10.9 million students, or 21% of students in public school. Professional Development (PD) efforts have long attempted to prepare teachers to teach science to ELLs in order to increase student achievement and address misconceptions. More recently, PD interventions have tried language, literacy, and discourse strategies, and high-quality experimental interventions using these strategies have not been enough to close the achievement gap between ELLs and non-ELLs. Moving beyond these strategies to investigate other potentially powerful approaches, this study initiates a large-scale investigation of the effect of utilizing Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) integration strategies to teach science concepts to ELLs. As a foundational experiment this study compares the discrete approaches of traditional Science Inquiry instructional methods with the educational methods of VAPA instruction to ascertain their relative effectiveness at teaching science to elementary school students at grade 3-5.

The treatment consisted of US Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned lessons, delivered through three VAPA lessons and three Inquiry lessons at each of three grade levels, 3, 4, and 5 (18 lessons total across the three grades). Both sets of lessons addressed identical concepts and standards but through different methodologies: the VAPA lessons taught the science concepts through arts techniques, while the Inquiry lessons utilized traditional science inquiry techniques. Earth science tests with 18-19 questions were created for each of the grade levels to serve as an outcome measure for student science achievement, and approximately 17-21% of the questions on the assessments included items from the Misconceptions-Oriented Standards-based Assessment Resources for Teachers (MOSART) test.

The research design utilized two randomly assigned experimental groups, with one group teaching VAPA before Inquiry and the other group beginning with Inquiry before VAPA. These experimental groups were measured across pretest/posttest one to provide a direct test of VAPA versus Inquiry. Following pretest one, the groups were next taught the complementary lessons (that they had not yet received, i.e. Inquiry group next received VAPA or vice versa) and pretest/posttest two was administered. Total numbers of students for each group were 920 3rd graders, 987 4th graders, and 1,010 5th graders among seven US school districts.

A common rationale for not utilizing the arts to teach science has often been the presumption that VAPA techniques are not as effective as traditional science teaching methods at teaching science. However, this study found that when rigorously compared experimentally the relative learning gains of the two methodologies were not statistically significantly different. This finding suggests that integration of the arts to teach science may be explored in classrooms without significantly sacrificing science learning. This experiment also found when combining VAPA and Inquiry techniques that the ordering of these pedagogical approaches does not result in statistically significant differences, further informing curriculum designers.

The integration of teaching science through the arts will be explored more fully as this long-term project proceeds with the goals of finding innovative ways to engage students in science, improving their science achievement, and addressing misconceptions. Of future significance for this research project is the extension integrating models for curriculum development and expansion to experimentation with media supporting online courses featuring VAPA-integrated instructional approaches. Online access is ultimately expected to reach a broad audience.
author = {Hughes, B. and Kalinowski, R. and Zinger, D. and Ray, A. and Grove, D. and Bailey, D.},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {4498-4503}}
AU - B. Hughes AU - R. Kalinowski AU - D. Zinger AU - A. Ray AU - D. Grove AU - D. Bailey
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 4498
EP - 4503
ER -
B. Hughes, R. Kalinowski, D. Zinger, A. Ray, D. Grove, D. Bailey (2015) IMPROVING SCIENCE INSTRUCTION THROUGH INTEGRATING THE ARTS, ICERI2015 Proceedings, pp. 4498-4503.