The arts in teaching: An investigation of factors influencing teachers' use of the arts in the classroom

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Art|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Teacher Training




Research in learning, creativity, and intelligence over the past decade has spurred new approaches to integrate the arts into classroom instruction. As a result the arts have increasingly been included in professional development programs for teachers. At the same time, intense national focus on high-stakes testing challenges teachers to reconcile creative and prescriptive curriculum and pedagogy. Little is known, however, about teachers' perspectives on the arts in the curriculum, their personal experience and attitudes towards the arts, and the impact of arts-based professional development on teaching practices. ^ This study combined quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine attitudes of teachers and to discover the primary motivations and concerns of teachers related to arts use in teaching. Data were collected from 423 teachers in grades K–12, representing 97 schools in five regions of the country and analyzed using exploratory factor analysis, hierarchical multiple regression and qualitative analyses. ^ The results indicated that teachers believe the arts are important in education but use them rarely. Teachers' strongest motivation to use the arts was the diversity of student needs and the benefits of the arts for students. Lack of training and time were the most powerful constraints to arts use. Teachers' self-efficacy and self-image relating to creativity and artistry were more influential in art use than any other personal characteristic. Primary grade teachers used the arts most frequently and women were slightly more likely than men to use the arts in the classroom. Surprisingly, prior arts instruction, current artistic practice, and years of teaching experience were not significant predictors of arts use. Overall, the predictors in the regression model explained 39% of the variation in self-reported arts use, indicating a large effect size. ^ Factor analysis revealed four attitude factors related to arts use: importance of the arts, self-efficacy and self-image, support, and constraints. Teachers regarded the arts as a singular concept as opposed to separate art forms, each with specific skills and activities. These results suggest that professional development experiences can make a difference in arts use in teaching, regardless of the level of past background or current artistic involvement of the teacher. ^