What is Art Integration?

What is Arts Integration?
What is Arts Integration?

Over the past decade, art integration has become a topic of increasing interest, particularly in the wake of declining standards of education. Modern theorists have posited that there is not one standard mode of learning, but rather multiple modes that require varied approaches to teaching.* Alongside typical arts education, instructors have begun to incorporate the arts in academic classes as a medium with which to initiate a more varied learning process, as well as boost enthusiasm and participation. However, the process of integrating the arts into standard education has been slow to develop nationwide and exists only in a couple of school districts throughout the country.

* One renowned theorist is Dr. Howard Gardner, who claims the existence of various forms of intelligence in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner’s claim points to different modes of learning that do not always follow the perceived path of Left-Brain Reasoning. In his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel Pink foretells the rise of Right-Brain Thinking in the 21st-century work force.

What is art integration?

Art integration in education is a method of teaching that is academic-based, in which non-art subjects, such as math, reading, social studies, and science, are explained and applied through creative and artistic processes. The overall purpose of art integration is to promote multi-modal learning and increase student engagement.

Types of Integration*

Subservient – art used as an “extra” component to curriculum (i.e. singing songs about the states in the US); there is little to no involvement from artists or art teachers; primarily craft-based activities that are supplemental to the lesson and focus on local cognitive skills, such as technical abilities, like coloring, cut and pasting, as well as memorizing lyrics.

Co-equal cognitive – art is more fully integrated with academic curriculum (i.e. the graphing of music) so as to promote higher level thinking skills, such as problem solving, patterning (or the recognition of patterns), critical assessment (logical reflection, and creative thinking,

Affective – consists of two sub-categories: “mood altering” and “creative;” regarding the first category, art immersion is used to complement a lesson by altering the mood of the classroom (i.e. background music used to create a relaxed atmosphere); this mode of integration is focused on the reception of art rather than active application, so as to facilitate new modes of learning; regarding the second category, the arts are provided as a stimulus for the students to actively create, allowing freedom for self-expression and non-directed learning.

Social Integration – art applied through performance as a means in which to complement a lesson, as well as to provide a social-interactive element to the classroom; emphasis is more on presentation and appreciation of the arts rather than learning through direct application.

* Bresler (1995) adapted from Gullatt, E. David, Ph.D. (2008) “Enhancing Student Learning Through Arts Integration Implications for the Profession.” The High School Journal. 91, no. 4. University of North Carolina Press, 12-25.

The subservient and social integration modes of integration are the most commonly employed methods; however, they are least true to the actual intention of art integration. Art integration in education is most effective when art is used as a means to explain and promote understanding of a certain concept or topic. The goal is to synthesize right and left-brain learning by allowing students to establish connections between creative process/thinking with factual and/or logic-based material. Such a mode of learning enables students not only to more fully engage with topics, but also to gain more personal understanding. In the long run, students are more likely to retain what they have learned in classes that make use of art integration and apply this knowledge outside of the classroom.

What is the purpose of art integration?

Art has the capacity to facilitate a shift from lower to higher level learning by initiating not only a desire to learn, but also encouraging the active application of knowledge. The arts are directly correlated with creative thinking, in which students examine, associate, retain, and apply what they learn. In addition, the arts also engage students emotionally, thus helping to create a passion to learn, experiment, discover, and share information. Arts-integrated curriculum successfully fuses application of the arts with other academic material, so that the student experiences both direct learning through observation and experiential learning through imitation.

Challenges of Art Integration

Funding – Educational funding is typically delegated to subjects other than the arts. As a result, lack of sufficient funds limits the degree to which the arts can be integrated into standard curriculum. Art integration activities often require more supplies and equipment than other non-art classes (art supplies, instruments, proper facilities, etc.) Art integration activities are even more effective when technology is used; however, this asset also requires additional funding, which at times, is simply not present.

Compiling Clear Data – Clear causation of higher levels of achievement in non-art academic subjects is often difficult to show due to the length of interventions (studies in which art integrated lessons are conducted in a specific classroom for a period of time) and the inability to establish a clear control group.

Scheduling/Professional Development – It is often difficult to schedule the appropriate amount of time for artists and art teachers to successfully collaborate with standard curriculum teachers. As a result, art integration is often difficult to facilitate. If teachers are to integrate the arts in their standard curriculum for academic classes, they must be provided the time and support for professional development.

Art Integration in Northern Colorado

Let’s make Northern Colorado a hub for arts integration. All ready, efforts to integrate arts in standard curriculum have been conducted as a means in which to raise learning standards and overall levels of achievement. Here are some examples of schools, education programs and non-profit organizations committed to furthering the process of art integration in Colorado:

Loveland Integrated School of the Arts (LISA)

Website: http://lisaschools.org


Website: http://think360arts.org


Website: http://arts-street.org

T.R. Paul Academy of Arts & Knowledge

Website: http://www.tpaak.org

Center of Integrated Arts Education, UNC

Website: http://www.arts.unco.edu


“Arts Integration: The Kennedy Center’s Perspective.” The Kennedy Center: Arts Edge. J.F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2013. Web. 2 April, 2013.

Bresler, Liora. (1995) “The Subservient, Co-Equal, Affective, and Social Integration Styles and Their Implications for the Arts.” Arts Education Policy Review 96, no. 5, 31-7. Web. < http://faculty.education.illinois.edu/liora/sub_directory/pdf/subservient.pdf&gt;. 2 April, 2013.

Gullatt, E. David, Ph.D. (2008) “Enhancing Student Learning Through Arts Integration Implications for the Profession.” The High School Journal. 91, no. 4. University of North Carolina Press, 12-25. Web. Academic Search Premier. 2 April, 2013.

Lyons, Linda. Personal Interview. 12 March, 2013.

___________. “Integrating the Arts with Math, Science, Reading to Improve Academic Success.” LEAP 200, Colorado State University, UCA, 2 April, 2013. Lecture.

Thiessen, David. “LISA: Loveland Integrated School for the Arts.” LEAP 200, Colorado State University. UCA, 2 April, 2013. Lecture.

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