1 Yezreel Valley College (ISRAEL)
2 Kibbutzim -College of Education (ISRAEL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 342-350
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0112
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
In recent years, there is growing recognition of the potential inherent in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) education approach, while attempting to identify connections between the disciplines and develop relevant learning activities. Obviously, to be able to appreciate and hence to be ready to apply integrative learning activities, teachers should first experience such activities for themselves.

In this paper, we describe our experience with teachers' engagement in the development of learning activities that connect between mathematics and music. Twenty-seven in-service teachers who teach mathematics to fourth-grade students participated in an annual professional development program. The program included exposure to the meaning of integrative learning and pedagogical theories related to STEAM education and a demonstration of possible connections between mathematical content learned in fourth grade and music (e.g., fractions, symmetry, patterns, and measures). Then, the teachers developed activities that integrated mathematics and music. For this purpose, they could use any material and any platform/media/software they saw fit. During the program sessions, they presented their products, received peer feedback, and adjusted their products accordingly in an iterative process. The teachers were not familiar with the idea of STEAM education, and among them, four had a musical background.

The study examined the teachers' interpretations regarding the meaning of integrating music into the teaching of mathematics and their attitudes towards such integration. The research data included: In-depth interviews with 15 of the participants to learn about their views regarding the integration of music and mathematics and the insights they gained as a result of their experience; transcripts of the program meetings, and the teachers' products (before and after feedback) from which we could learn about their perceptions regarding the appropriate level of applied integration.

The data were analyzed using qualitative research tools: content analysis and inductive analysis. Results indicated a lack of direct connection between teachers' views regarding the importance of the integration and the nature of developed activities. While 24 of the teachers expressed a high level of support for the importance of integrating music into the teaching of mathematics, the activities they developed demonstrated broad perceptions regarding the meaning of such integration and consequently different levels of integration: At one end, a low level of integration, e.g., teaching measurements while a song they found to be relevant in some way is played in the background, and on the other end, a high level of integration, e.g., using music terms to demonstrate the logic of fractions and arithmetic operations. As expected, teachers with musical backgrounds developed activities with a relatively higher level of integration between music and mathematics. Therefore, one of the conclusions the teachers reached was the necessity of "combining forces" between mathematics and music teachers to strengthen the degree of integration and its quality. To conclude, we should note that out of the 27 teachers, 12 teachers chose to apply the materials in their classrooms and continue to improve them following their experience. A follow-up study is currently being conducted with the participation of these teachers.
STEAM education, mathematics learning, music terms, integrated learning activity.