Perspectives from Educators Regarding the Integration of Art and Science in the Classroom
Lobpries, Melissa J.
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Art and science have had a dynamic relationship over the centuries. With the progression of art and science through the course of human history, connections between the two fields are inevitable, as seen in the works of Leonardo da Vinci (late fifteenth-early sixteenth centuries) or Andy Goldsworthy (late twentieth century-present). Despite periods of misunderstanding and separation, art and science collaborations have occurred throughout history and modernity. This qualitative case study intends to highlight, through literature and research, these collaborations and the benefits for education. In addition, findings from this study will be generated to develop ideas for an emergent curriculum called Artistic and Scientific Knowledge (ASK), which is a collaboration of art and science teaching and learning in the classroom. The purpose of this study is to bring teachers’ perspectives to the forefront, and to encourage art and science teachers to collaborate. After further literature review, the rationale for an ethnographic research methodology and other related research is discussed. Using this methodology, a pilot study was previously conducted in which I investigated the perspectives of two art teachers regarding the idea of ASK teaching and learning. This dissertation study expands on my early pilot study and includes a group of three art teachers (two of them from the pilot study) and three science teachers. I continue using the ethnographic research methodology, and conduct interviews with my participants. The interview questions involve the integration of art and science in the classroom, and aim to determine the feasibility of an ASK curriculum in the high school setting. Subsequent to the interviews, I analyze the data and include my own perspective, as an art teacher and researcher. Several themes that emerged from this analysis are: teachers felt 1) both art and science have concepts/aspects that are difficult to understand; 2) a curiosity and interest in learning more about certain aspects of each other’s subjects; 3) commonalities between art and science are: creativity, discovery, problem solving, thought process, and use of visuals; 4) in favor of integration, with a need for guidance on how to do and apply it – logistical issues; 5) in favor of incorporating the other subject’s concepts into their lessons, with a willingness to learn more; 6) students would benefit from learning art and science concepts together; 7) an ASK curriculum is feasible in the high school setting; and 8) in favor of collaborating with one another to further develop this type of curriculum. Drawing from these findings, I articulate ideas of the proposed ASK curriculum, as well as possible future collaborations with other art and science teachers. This study is significant to teachers, administrators, and curriculum designers within all levels of art education and science education. More often than not, art education is seen as less necessary than core subjects, such as math and science, for student success in the real world. Through research, analysis, and interpretation of art and science collaborations, both in schools and in the real world, I discuss the positive implications that art has had on science teaching and learning and vice versa. Successful results of art and science education collaborations are encouraging to teachers, administrators, and curriculum designers who are reinventing or redesigning curricula to fit twenty-first century thinkers.