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ERIC Number: ED545447
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 219
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2675-5498-7
What Difference Does Curricular Integration Make? An Inquiry of Fifth Graders' Learning of History through the Use of Literacy and Visual Arts Skills
Brugar, Kristy A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
This is a quasi-experimental mixed methods study of a curriculum intervention focused on the interdisciplinary teaching of history, literacy, and the visual arts. In this study I address three questions: (1) How does students' learning in history change following their participation in an interdisciplinary history-literacy-visual arts curriculum, and how does their learning compare to students who learn the same content through traditional teaching approaches?; (2) In what ways, if any, do students who participate in an interdisciplinary history-literacy-visual arts unit demonstrate engagement, historical thinking skills, and aesthetic skills during the unit?; and (3) How do teachers view the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing an interdisciplinary history-literacy-visual arts curriculum? In order to answer these questions, I administered pre- and post-assessments, did field observations, collected student work samples, and conducted teacher interviews. I designed two assessments and the curricular intervention. The unit of study is the convergence of three civilizations (African, American Indian, and European) and based on state content standards. Student learning in history was measured through pre- and post-assessments of students in three classrooms (two experimental and one comparison). The intervention unit was implemented by two fifth-grade teachers in their classrooms in a school enrolling a high population of low-SES students. The comparison classroom was in the same district with similar demographics. While students at both schools performed similarly on the pre-assessment, following the intervention students in the experimental classrooms scored better than the comparison classroom students on the post-assessment. In addition, the experimental group students demonstrated: (1) procedural and substantive engagement; (2) historical thinking skills; and (3) Aesthetic Development skills throughout the teaching of the unit. Also, I investigate the experimental teachers' beliefs about the feasibility of this kind of teaching and the effectiveness of interdisciplinary teaching on students' learning. They reported both challenges and benefits. The teachers described the challenges of this type of instruction in terms of time and resources, and identified another challenge: their lack of understanding about interdisciplinary instruction. However, the teachers and I identified several benefits to interdisciplinary instruction. The benefits included high levels of student engagement, student demonstration of higher order thinking skills, and teacher learning through this process. This study contributes to our understanding of how students learn about history through interdisciplinary instruction, as well as teachers' perceptions of the benefits and drawbacks of interdisciplinary instruction. In an era of decreased time for social studies and visual arts education at the elementary level (particularly for students from low-SES backgrounds) the meaningful integration of history and visual arts with literacy--and its relationship to student learning and engagement--is worth exploring. This dissertation has implications for teacher education and practice. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 5; Intermediate Grades
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A