Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Special Issue, 971-979
Published Online October 2012 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2012.326147
Creative Osmosis: Teacher Perspectives of Artist Involvement in
Professional Development
Bernard W. Andrews
Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
Received August 31st, 2012; revise d S e p t e mber 28th, 2012; accepted October 14th, 2012
This inquiry examined the impact of a professional development program in the arts for teachers over a
three-year period. The summer program focused on the integrated arts and was offered in partnership with
Canada’s cultural institutions and with the involvement of professional artists. The research focused on
the teachers’ personal growth and professional practice by employing a multi-perspectives methodology
entitled Integrated Inquiry. The inspirational settings in cultural settings, the creative learning activities
with artists, and the opportunities to discuss and reflect on their personal perspectives promoted the
teachers’ personal growth and professional practice. Participation in a wide variety of creative arts activi-
ties in cultural settings increased the participants’ willingness to teach the arts in their own classrooms.
These experiences enhanced their tolerance for ambiguity and sensitivity to different learning styles. The
reflective journal was a powerful tool for making the practical theoretical. It enabled them to relate arts
experiences to learning theory and to develop and nurture new ideas. Major obstacles to implementing the
arts in schools were inadequate resources, limited peer support, insufficient expertise to assess student
achievement effectively, and lack of time. Teachers could overcome these obstacles by engaging in arts
advocacy, developing cross-curricular arts themes, enrolling in upgrading courses in evaluation, and
adopting an integrated approach to curriculum delivery, respectively.
Keywords: Arts Partnerships; Professional Development Arts; Artists Teaching Teachers
In response to concerns by the teaching profession, education
faculties across Canada have developed new partnerships with
their stakeholders to deliver programs that are relevant and
effective (Andrews, 2002; Gurney & Andrews, 1998, 2000). In
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, an innovative integrated arts
in-service program for teachers was developed by the Arts
Education Consortium, a partnership of Canada’s national cul-
tural institutions and the Faculty of Education at the University
of Ottawa. The program features creative artists working with
classroom teachers in professional development to improve the
teaching of the arts—dance, drama, music and visual arts—
within the school curriculum.
The Arts Education Consortium is comprised of the Cana-
dian Conference of the Arts, the Canadian Museum of Civiliza-
tion, the National Arts Centre, the National Gallery, the Na-
tional Library, the School of Dance, and the University of Ot-
tawa.1 The Consortium supports teacher development and re-
search in arts education.2 The Odyssey Project is a multi-year
research project intended to assess the effectiveness of the
Consortium’s integrated arts partnership program for enhancing
teachers’ arts learning and developing their instructional effec-
tiveness.3 The Project involves several phases: the first two
phases focused on the on-site program at the cultural institu-
tions whereas this study focused on teachers’ practices in their
own classrooms. This research, entitled Creative osmosis:
Teacher perspectives on artist involvement in professional de-
velopment (Phase 3), examined the impact of the integrated arts
partnership program on teachers’ experiences in the field by
those who successfully completed the program over a three-
year period.
Previous Research
Phase 1, entitled The Odyssey Project: Fostering teacher
learning in the arts, focused on a description of those classroom
factors that promote changing teachers’ beliefs and practices
(Andrews, 2008a). The study combined themes from journals,
classroom observations and video sessions of the integrated arts
partnership program during a summer session. Findings indi-
cate that it is an emerging group culture characterized by a
sense of community, comfort and mutual support which fosters
trust, emotional openness and personal risk-taking. These as-
pects of the program enable teachers to explore their own crea-
tivity, examine their thoughts and feelings, acknowledge each
other’s views, understand different perspectives, and engage
successfully in artistic activities. Further, they develop an un-
derstanding of the significance of the arts to society and for
their own professional practice.
1The Consortium evolved into a loosely-coupled partnership whereby part-
ners became involved in a broader range of university programs, such as B.
Ed. and M. Ed., in addition to the A. Q. program.
2Teacher development subsumes pre-service (i.e., Teacher Education), in-ser-
vice (i.e., Additional Qualification courses), an d Graduate S t udies (M. Ed.).
3The Odyssey Project was funded by the Laidlaw Foundation and the Uni-
of Ottawa.
Phase 2, entitled Seeking harmony: Teachers’ perspectives
on learning to teach in and through the arts, examined teachers’
perspectives on their experiences with professional artists in the
integrated arts partnership program (Andrews, 2010). The study
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 971
combined questionnaire, focus group and survey data. Findings
indicate that when artists, selected for their interest in education
and ability to collaborate with teachers, are involved in profes-
sional development, teachers acquire the confidence to express
themselves freely, they are willing to teach the arts in their own
classrooms, they realize the potential and value of the arts
within the school curriculum, and they develop arts-specific
teaching expertise. Further, the teachers’ sensitivity to their
own creativity and openness to experimentation is heightened,
and an awareness of the potential of the arts to develop a stu-
dent’s imagination, intuition and personal expressiveness is
Arts Education Context
In Ontario, Canada’s largest province, classroom teachers are
expected to integrate the arts into the general curriculum (On-
tario Ministry of Education, 1998, 2009), seldom with suffi-
cient training or background (Pitman, 1998; Wilkinson, Emer-
son, Guillaumant, Mergler, & Waddington, 1992). This is also
a common problem in other jurisdictions (Bresler, 1992; Oreck,
2004; Taggart, Whitley, & Sharp, 2004). Many elementary
teachers lack sufficient expertise to teach the arts effectively
(Patteson, 2002a, 2002b; Smithrim & Upitis, 2001), and con-
sequently teaching the arts causes anxiety for them and often
leads to avoidance (Oreck, 2004; Taggart, Whitley, & Sharp,
2004). To assist teachers acquire the requisite expertise, a uni-
que summer arts program was developed by the Arts Education
Consortium. This program focused on the integrated arts, and it
featured teachers undertaking creative learning on-site at Can-
ada’s cultural institutions with professional artists and com-
pleting a follow-up action research project in the fall session.4
Partnerships between arts organizations and educational in-
stitutions are an effective approach to arts education (Doherty
& Harland, 2001; Smithrim & Upitis, 2001). The collaboration
that ensues provides expertise, insights and funds not readily
available to teachers and students (Irwin & Kindler, 1997; Upi-
tis, Smithrim, & Soren, 1999). Artist involvement in schools
(Oreck, 2004; Upitis, Smithrim, & Soren, 1999) and in profes-
sional development programs (Patteson, 2002c; Upitis, 2005)
encourages teachers to teach the arts. Such collaboration has
also been effective for developing the arts expertise of begin-
ning teachers (Andrews, 1995, 1999) and motivating them to
undertake arts instruction in their own classrooms (Andrews,
1997, 2006). Successful partnerships strengthen the connec-
tions between schools and their communities (Bailey, 1998),
and mutual respect for each partner’s values, goals and organ-
izational culture are developed (ARTS, Inc. & Performing Tree,
2000). Organizations pool resources and ideas, share workloads,
expand funding bases, gain political clout, and strengthen pro-
fessional development opportunities for both teachers and art-
ists through their involvement in partnerships (Arts Education
Partnership, 2001).
Methodology: Integrated Inquiry
Integrated Inquiry was employed throughout each phase of
The Odyssey Project. It is an approach to research that seeks to
examine instructional issues from a variety of perspectives and
acquire a more comprehensive understanding of a research
issue. This may be achieved by combining multiple qualitative
and/or quantitative data or alternately, administering a single
protocol in different years of a program. This form of inquiry
adopts the metaphor of the professional composer; that is, one
who combines multiple qualitative (e.g., instrumentation, or-
chestration) and/or multiple quantitative (e.g., meter, tempo)
musical elements in a seamless web of integration (Andrews,
2008b). Similarly, researchers using Integrated Inquiry can
employ multiple qualitative and/or multiple qualitative data
sources. For example, different protocols can be administered
to the same group in a study, or the same protocol can be ad-
ministered to different groups over several years. Both of these
approaches enable researchers to acquire a multi-dimensional
perspective on the research problem. To substantiate analyses
and epistemological stances, combining data from multiple
protocols in this way is supported in educational research
(Creswell, 2002; Miles & Huberman, 1994; Patton, 1990; Stake,
1995). Integrated Inquiry is particularly useful for research with
a limited amount of data. Previously, the writer has successfully
employed this method of research in several studies (e.g., An-
drews, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008a, 2010).
This study, entitled Creative osmosis: Teacher perspectives
on artist involvement in professional development, examined
the impact of the arts partnership program on teachers’ personal
growth and professional practice in different years of the pro-
gram with professional artists. Nine teachers, all of whom had
successfully undertaken the program in one of the three years
that the program was offered, volunteered to participate in this
study: 2 of 18 enrolled in Year 1; 4 of 12 enrolled in Year 2;
and 3 of 10 enrolled in Year 3. Of these, 7 were female and 2
male; 7 worked in the elementary and 2 in the secondary panel;
and 5 identified themselves as subject specialists, 3 as general-
ists, and 1 in administration (i.e., a consultant). All the partici-
pants had taught in publically-funded schools with a range of 3
to 18 years of teaching experience. Only one of them indicated
expertise in an arts discipline (i.e., drama) (Table 1). Each of
the teachers completed an in-depth questionnaire on the impact
of the program on their personal growth and professional prac-
tice, thereby submitting nine data sources across three different
years of the program (Figure 1). The questionnaire was devel-
oped in collaboration with the Consortium partners and de-
signed to examine teachers’ experiences in the field as a fol-
low-up to previous studies in The Odyssey Project which fo-
cused on the on-site program at the cultural institutions (An-
drews, 2008a, 2010). The questionnaire focused on the teach-
ers’ beliefs and practices in arts education, theory-practice inte-
gration within the program, obstacles to teaching the arts in
schools, and recommendations for improving professional de-
velopment in the arts for teachers (Table 2). Data was entered
into NVivo, a qualitative software program, and it was coded,
analyzed, cross-referenced, and interpreted by the principal
investigator and research assistants using the constant compara-
tive method (Stake, 1995).
Multiple Perspectives
Teacher Beliefs and Practice
The teachers reported that the key aspects of the summer arts
course that promoted their personal growth were the inspira-
tional settings of Canada’s cultural institutions, involvement in
a variety of creative activities with artists and their classmates,
4Additional Qualifi cations ( AQ) are upgrad ing cou rses for practicing teach-
ers which are unique to Ontario.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Table 1.
Expertise of the teachers.
Number Gender Panel Background Year
1 M E Religion Year 1
2 F E Generalist Year 1
3 F E French/Phys Ed. Year 2
4 F E Drama Year 2
5 F E Curriculum Consultant Year 2
6 F S Drama Year 2
7 F E Generalist Year 3
8 F E Generalist Year 3
9 M S Special Education Year 3
Table 2.
Please complete each of the following questions. Feel free to use the
reverse side of the questionnaire, should you require additional space.
Teacher Beliefs and Practice:
1) What aspects of the summer arts course promoted your personal
growth? Explain.
2) Have your beliefs concerning the arts in education changed as a
consequence of completing a professional development course in the
arts? Please elaborate.
3) How did the course impact on your classroom practice (e.g.,
teaching strategies, assessment, etc.)? Please elaborate.
Theory-Practice Integration:
1) When wer e this theo ry and practi ce effectively i ntegrated within the
course structure?
2) Were th e con cept s an d s kil ls yo u l earn ed ap pl icab le t o the cl assr o om
setting? Please elaborate.
3) In what ways did the reflective journal contribute to the integration
of theory and practice?
1) When you implemented an arts lesson, what difficulties did you
encounter (e.g., timing, gender differences, c hi l dr en’s abilities, etc.)?
2) How did y ou overcome such obsta cles?
1) For you to pursue additional professional development in the arts,
what kind of expertise would be valuable to you?
2) Do you have any sugges t ions to improve the organizatio n and
delivery of future professional develop ment programs? Please describe.
and the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their personal
perspectives. Together the setting, the arts activities, and the
reflective discussions enabled the teachers to explore and dis-
cover new aspects of themselves and develop their expertise,
thereby developing the confidence and willingness to teach the
arts in their own classrooms.
[It was] the challenges to create in different areas of the
arts: soundscapes; choreograph a dance using grid (clap
your ankles); and declaiming Romeo and Juliet at the Na-
tional Gallery of Canada. These made us more comfort-
able with exploring the unknown and showed me again
the value of spontaneity and play.
Undertaking professional development with artists on-site at
cultural institutions changes the classroom dynamics. The spa-
ciousness of the galleries, concert halls, and studios was in stark
Figure 1.
Data sources for the study.
contrast to rectangular school classrooms, often without win-
dows. These settings encouraged teachers to engage in creative
activities and reflect on their learning. This finding is consistent
with comments by participants in the two previous phases of
The Odyssey Project (Andrews, 2008a, 2010) and in the arts
education literature (Arts Education Partnership, 2001; ARTS,
Inc. & Performing Tree, 2000).
Artistic engagement in cultural settings did not so much
change beliefs as it reinforced and strengthened the teachers'
extant beliefs in the value of the arts. By enabling them to get in
touch with their inner selves, the teachers voiced a stronger
appreciation of the value of the arts for enhancing personal
learning and understanding.
I think I have always valued the importance of creativity
and how the arts develop this ability, but the course en-
abled me to feel it on a more personal level by having me
live it.
I always believed that the arts must be a “necessity” for
the well being of human kind. After this course, I was
even more a strong believer that the arts are teaching us
not only to surpass our limits but to discover our inner
Engagement with artists in professional development enables
teachers to learn how to teach creatively and encourage their
students to express themselves through artistic activities in a
variety of art forms (Patteson, 2002a, 2002b; Upitis, 2005). In
this study, the teachers learned how to express their own feel-
ings in different art forms, and they realized that connections
between the arts and other subjects could be developed from an
experiential basis and not just from links organized conceptu-
ally. Personal experience could serve as a starting point for
effective curriculum development.
The course also showed me how the arts can integrate
many other more academic subjects because I was so ac-
tively involved in the process, not just learning intellectu-
ally about it. I found myself constantly thinking of links to
math, history and science.
I was shown by professionals in dance, music, theatre
how to try and meet some of the Ministry’s expectations
for the arts by integrating across the curriculum and also
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 973
with the ability to pull more lessons out of personal ex-
Arts integration is well-established in the educational com-
munity as a viable strategy for the teaching of non-arts subjects.
Dance, drama, music and the visual arts expand the imagination
and enrich the school curriculum (Patteson, 2002a, 2002b; Upi-
tis, 2005). Most importantly, the ar ts provide a variety of ways
for students to learn which is congruent with different learning
styles (i.e., auditory, visual, kinaesthetic). However, many
teachers lack the confidence to teach the arts in their own
classrooms because of a lack of expertise (Oreck, 2004; Taggart,
Whitely, & Sharp, 2004). In this study, participants indicated
that their engagement in a wide variety of arts activities
throughout the course increased their willingness to teach the
arts in their own classrooms and their confidence to do so.
Moreover, these arts experiences enhanced their tolerance for
ambiguity in the classroom and their sensitivity to different
learning styles.
I take more risks and I appreciate the “chaos” of innova-
tion, the students’ ideas, experimentation, errors, and the
participation of the children.
Now I have to re-design lesson plans to meet different
learners learning styles. Teaching strategies were multi-
plied as it showed me how an art lesson can be trans-
formed into science, math, physical education and lan-
guage arts.
Through participation in the summer sessions involving pro-
fessional artists, teachers experienced a significant shift in their
beliefs and practices about arts instruction. Prior to the course,
teachers did not believe they could successfully teach the arts in
their classrooms and lacked the confidence to do, primarily due
a lack of expertise in the arts disciplines. This situation is
common in many jurisdictions throughout North America and
elsewhere (Pitman, 1998; Taggart, Whitely, & Sharp, 2004).
After engaging in a broad variety of artistic activities with pro-
fessional artists in cultural settings and reflecting on their
learning, the participants’ confidence increased substantively,
and they subsequently taught the arts in their own classrooms.
This shift in beliefs and practices is consistent with previous
studies involving professional artists in both teacher education
(Andrews, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2006) and professional develop-
ment (Andrews, 2008a, 2010; Patteson, 2002a, 2002b; Smi-
thrim & Upitis, 2001; Upitis, Sm ithrim, & Soren, 1999) programs.
Theory-Practice Integration
Theory and practice in the program were effectively inte-
grated for the teachers through a combination of artist demon-
stration and explanation of arts activities, and teacher reflection
and discussion on the experiential activities and course re-
During the classes, we had discussions to elaborate on
what we had learned. We used a personal journal to re-
cord our daily reflection on theory and practice. The pro-
fessional artists delivering various segments of the course
would elaborate on which theory/practice they were utiliz-
While the course participants were actively involved
in practical applications of arts programming, we
were given lots of time to devote to discussing how
this would work in a classroom setting. Connections
were made to the arts curriculum of Ontario.
Reflective practice is a common approach to instructional
practice in the teaching profession (Jindal-Snape & Holmes,
2004; Newton, 2004; Osterman, 1990). Unless a teacher under-
takes to do so, however, reflection is not a component of tradi-
tional disciplined-based arts instruction (e.g., inter-disciplinary,
multi-disciplinary, parallel disciplines), nor arts integration
strategies (e.g., arts & crafts, multicultural arts, integrated arts).
However, this aspect of the program provided an effective ve-
hicle for integrating theory and practice, transferring skills, and
enabling teachers to internalize a range of arts learning. The
teachers recognized the value of reflection within the program’s
curriculum for broadening their awareness of the opportunities
of integrating the arts into their classroom teaching and for their
own personal development.
In a matter of a few weeks, a teacher with little or no arts
background had at their disposal a plethora of hands-on
lessons, documentation, bibliographies, living resources,
contacts throughout the city, calendars of events, and a
follow-up personal development course to complete.
Professional development programs in the arts historically
focus on the development of technical skills. For example in
Ontario education, a series of Additional Qualification courses
are offered by faculties of education in dance, drama, music and
visual arts. These courses are designed to develop the teachers’
expertise in the discipline and to provide disciplined-based
approaches to classroom instruction. In the summer program
the teachers commented that the curriculum was focused on
process not on skill acquisition. There was some frustration
expressed that the nature of the course did not enable them to
develop technical skills so that they could not take their stu-
dents beyond an engagement in exploratory arts activities.
The activities consisted of exploring the medium, rather
than technical skills per se… I feel my own lack of tech-
nical skill in music and dance keeps me from taking stu-
dents to the “next” level.
The number of hours in the summer arts program is man-
dated by the Additional Qualification program administered by
the Ontario College of Teachers. Consequently, more hours
would be required to develop teachers’ skills further in each of
the arts subjects, in addition to the arts integration focus of the
program. There have been similar concerns about an integrated
arts approach in the literature with critics claiming that teachers
should acquire arts expertise prior to taking such a program
(Best, 1995; Clark, 1995; Conway, Hibbard, Albert, & Houri-
gan, 2005; Kindler, 1987). However, there are those experts
who argue just as pervasively that arts integration should be the
starting point for teaching the arts and teachers can acquire
additional technical skills as needed (Freedom, 1989; Galt,
1994; Berghoff, Borgaman, & Parr, 2004).
The reflective journal was a powerful tool for making the
practical theoretical. It enabled the teachers to understand the
relationship of their arts experiences to learning theory and to
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
develop and nurture new ideas. Both of these aspects of the
journaling experience assisted them to more effectively inte-
grate theory and practice, and contributed to their personal
growth and development.
I feel that reflection is always important to the learning
process, so taking the time to reflect on the practical work
we did was essential to our absorption of what we had
learned. It gives you the time to think about what worked
and what didn't for us, and what might work with a group
of students and what might not.
The act of reflection demands thought and gives one time
to ask oneself how one felt about a dramatic involvement
or personal contribution to the group effort. This time of
reflection allows new ideas and thought to surface around
the “experience”. Sometimes, further discussion will fol-
low. Ideas mature and develop. Real personal growth is
possible over time, once the journal writing becomes a
regular habit.
Overall, the participants’ theory-practice integration is an
outcome of engagement in a broad range of creative activities
in dance, drama, music and the visual arts with professional
artists, implementing the program on-site in cultural institutions
which inspired them to engage in arts experiences, and the use
of journals to reflect and discuss their personal perspectives.
Taken together these three aspects of the program raised the
teachers’ confidence and willingness to teach the arts in their
own classrooms.
Four obstacles emerged from the teachers’ comments de-
scribing the difficulties they experienced implementing arts
lessons: making time within the curriculum; acquiring arts re-
sources; obtaining support from other teachers on staff; and
undertaking effective arts evaluation.
1) Time is a serious constraint on teachers, particularly given
the compression of the curriculum with the elimination of
one-year from the school curriculum (i.e., Ontario Academic
Credits/Grade 13).
A re-occurring obstacle is always having enough time to
assist those children whose abilities require more time and
In Ontario, there were initially 13 grades which were reduced
to 12 commencing in 2003. Consequently, the entire elementary
and secondary curriculum was affected by the expectation by
the Ministry of Education to do more in less time. Further, the
Ministry implemented standardized testing in grades 3, 6, 9 and
10 with the result that teachers focus on those subjects that
promote numeracy and literacy, often at the expense of those
that promote creativity and aesthetic experiences. The stan-
dardized testing is administered by the Education Quality and
Accountability Office (EQAO) which was established in 1996
by the provincial legislature (Government of Ontario, 1996).
2) The elementary teachers found it difficult to acquire the
resources to effectively deliver a wide range of activities as
there were financial constraints and space limitations.
You are not in an art studio with easily accessible supplies
for a whole morning with lots of room to work in and put
up the work. Also, there is always a storage problem…
where to keep all the visual arts supplies? And what about
the drums that students have made and their beautiful but
huge masks? We want them around to use them and en-
During the 1990’s, the Ontario educational system was sub-
ject to considerable financial restraint as the provincial gov-
ernment attempted to eliminate the deficit and reduce the debt.
School boards were amalgamated, arts programs were elimi-
nated, small schools closed, and faculties of education restruc-
tured (Gurney & Andrews, 1998, 2000). Many schools were
simply unable to provide the arts supplies and equipment re-
quired to operate effective programs, especially musical in-
struments. The situation is analogous once again to the current
situation where teachers’ incomes are being restricted, benefits
removed, and budgets slashed by the provincial government to
cope with an ever-increasing debt load (Government of Ontario,
3) Teachers reported that their colleagues did not always sup-
port their efforts.
The “resistance” I get from teachers… is that they don’t
feel the lesson will always work with the boys. The big-
gest concern always revolves around gender issues, espe-
cially in the areas of drama and dance!
Teachers predominantly focus the instruction on for nu-
meracy and literacy outlined in Ministry of Education curricula
due to the emphasis on provincial testing (Government of On-
tario, 1996). Arts activities are sometimes viewed as frivolous,
especially if they are taught poorly, and they do not contribute
directly (i.e., a causal effect) to increasing test results (Upitis,
2005). Large ensemble activities, such as choir, band, dramatic
play, or dance, can also result in serious classroom management
problems if not implemented by a capable teacher (Andrews,
2011). Perhaps it is not surprising then that, given the pressures
of standardized testing and the element of risk in teaching the
arts, teacher-colleagues are not always supportive of arts initiatives.
4) Undertaking arts evaluation was a major concern to the
teachers. They indicated an awareness of its importance but a
frustration with implementation, given the large number of
expectations outlined in the curriculum.
I find it difficult also to evaluate each individual student
considering all the expectations we are supposed to de-
liver throughout the year. It is a sheer impossibility.
I guess I have sometimes found it difficult to be non-
judgmental about a student’s actual ability. We were told
in our course that participation is what matters most…
Also, if something is a “personal” effort, should you sug-
gest improvements? Then you have the arts exceptions
from the Ministry. I find all this rather confusing.
Although the arts curriculum is mandated to ensure that stu-
dents achieve the arts expectations (Ontario Ministry of Educa-
tion, 1998, 2009), many teachers lack the expertise to teach and
evaluate achievement in the arts disciplines effectively. Conse-
quently, there is a tendency to avoid doing so (Patteson, 2002a,
2002b; Smithrim & Upitis, 2001). This is a common problem in
many jurisdictions, not just in Ontario but also across North
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 975
America and internationally (Bresler, 1992; Oreck, 2004; Tag-
gart, Whitley, & Sharp, 2004). Moreover, teachers are generally
more comfortable undertaking quantitative (e.g., true/ false,
analogy, fill-in-the black, matching, short answer) rather than
qualitative (e.g., artworks, portfolios, performances) assess-
ments. The former are efficient and less-consuming than the
latter which require the skills to develop contextual criteria (e.g.,
rubrics) and justify one’s professional judgement to students,
parents and administrators. Consequently, many teachers ex-
perience increased stress when evaluating student achievement
in the arts (Andrews, 2011; Oreck, 2004; Patteson, 2002a, b
and c).
The teachers, although they had some suggestions for over-
coming obstacles, were tentative and recognized that more
long-term solutions were required. To obtain resources, advo-
cacy was recommended, and where this was not successful,
scaling down projects seemed to be the only alternative. To
develop colleague support, teachers suggested identifying school-
wide curricular themes and organizing arts activities in support
of them. School meetings and professional development days
were also identified as opportunities to solicit support for arts
experiences for the students. Teachers recognize the need for
evaluation skills in the arts and see this as a key role for profes-
sional development. To overcome the lack of time to deliver the
arts within the curriculum, an integrated, open-ended approach
was suggested.
When giving a lesson, I rely more on a holistic approach,
and since I teach at the elementary level, I want the stu-
dent to have acquired more practice than theory. I hope to
expose students to a positive hands-on discovery celebra-
tion of the arts in themselves and others.
The teachers clearly articulated an interest in acquiring addi-
tional technical skills in the arts disciplines, in arts assessment,
and integrating the arts across the curriculum. Indeed, these
skills were not viewed in isolation but viewed by the partici-
pants as inter-related.
I would also see that integrating the arts at a school level
needs further exploration. How does a person integrate
with integrity? Theory proves that you can’t integrate
without having subject specific knowledge and skills well
developed in the first place. Do you integrate subjects into
the arts, or the arts into other subjects?
There was strong support for offering the course in Canada’s
cultural institutions as these locations provide inspiration to
pursue the arts personally and motivation to use them in one’s
The format was great! The venues were perfect! The
teacher/mentor was exceptional. Everyone in the course
was fully committed to the process. It was the best two
weeks that I have ever given myself. The artist in me was
set free!
The notion of the “artist within” was a powerful tool for re-
leasing the teachers’ personal creativity. One individual sug-
gested that the focus at some point might shift to “teacher de-
velopment” which has more personal meaning for practitioners.
I felt that the beginning of the course should be more fo-
cused on the development of us as people and artists,
which it was. But the second half of the class, I would
have liked more of an emphasis of the deve- lopment of
us as teachers. Once our batteries had been recharged
somewhat, we were ready to think of school again and
how we could use this information.
Integration of the Data
Analysis and interpretation of the data determined that the
comments of the participants were similar across all three years
of the study on each of the questions. The only noticeable dif-
ference was the concern expressed by some of the teachers in
the second and third years of the program about the implemen-
tation of the revised expectations in the Ontario arts curriculum
and its focus on assessment (Ontario Ministry of Education,
2009). This was to be expected given the shift by the Ministry
of Education for detailed documentation of assessments for
learning (diagnostic), assessment as learning (formative), and
assessment of learning (summative). Overall, three major
themes emerged across all the data:
the impact of the arts on children in the classroom;
the impact of the arts on the teachers thems elves; and
teachers’ views on action research.
Impact on Children
Across the data, comments were made with respect to the
impact of the arts lessons on students. These comments focused
in two areas: the impact on boys and the impact on timid stu-
dents. Teachers reported that the boys, who tend to be self-
conscious about their bodies and tend not to participate readily
in dance and drama, were more engaged in the arts than usual,
although not with the focus and sense of completion of the
I found that since incorporating these lessons into my
program, my boys hook in more easily and find them-
selves enjoying art activities. The use of masks for drama
and dance were a liberating experience for many
self-conscious students.
During the implementation of my action project, I brought
what I learned in my water-color class to a small group of
boys, who were not very motivated to do art [...] to take
their time and really work on their pain tings [...] when the
next class came up, they didn’t want to work on their pre-
vious work, even though it wasn’t complete. They pre-
ferred to start something new.
Teachers also indicated that the arts encouraged introverted
students to participate more readily in classroom instruction.
Some of my more timid students are now more actively
involved. I think that, like me, they enjoy the play element,
but they take it seriously too.
Making dramas and learning basic drumming technique
sparked interest in music from many other cultures. Stu-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
dents saw and heard with new eyes and ears. Many chil-
dren who shied away from such activities because they
“didn’t feel they were any good at it” found that there was
a place for them that they could be successful. One stu-
dent discovered that he could paint and called himself
Nagi Van Gogh.
Impact on Tea che rs
The teachers indicated that the course experience brought
them in touch with their inner selves, and they learned that they
had expertise that they were unaware of. This increased their
confidence and willingness to teach the arts in their own class-
Before that course, I had always considered myself to be
good in drama and music, but not necessarily in dance and
visual arts. I discovered through the course that I am good
at all of the arts.
I felt that the course’s emphasis was on the development
of us as artists rather than us as teachers. I definitely felt
that I grew as an artist during that experience, and because
of that, it has impacted my classroom.
Action Research
The action research project was intended to provide an op-
portunity for teachers to test and refine their newly-acquired
arts expertise in the field. However, it received mixed reviews
as a vehicle for integrating theory and practice by the partici-
pants in the study. Those in favor stated that it enabled them to
continue their personal arts learning beyond the completion
date of the course.
Because of my action research project (a personal
development learning water-color painting), I have
continued to take art courses, and am very pleased
with the results. I have explored water-color painting
for the past two years, and I am now interested in
taking courses in drawing.
However, those teachers opposed to the action research pro-
ject found the complexity of designing and implementing a
project difficult to undertake, given their responsibilities in the
classroom. Moreover, there was the additional challenge of
assisting teachers throughout the fall term across Eastern On-
tario on an on-going basis by Faculty of Education staff. Due to
the implementation problems, the action research project was
subsequently removed from the program.
My action research project (organize workshops for
teachers on integrated arts) was mostly an adminis-
trative exercise in frustration.
Implications for Professional Development
The findings of this inquiry reinforce previous research stud-
ies that demonstrate the effectiveness of artist involvement in
professional development for improving teacher expertise in the
arts (Andrews, 2008a, 2010; McVey & Wilson, 1992; Patteson,
2002c; Upitis, 2005). Further, they provide direction for the
development of the arts in professional development programs.
Artist-teacher collaboration in a wide range of creative learning
activities within professional development enables teachers to
develop confidence and encourage them to teach the arts in
their own classrooms (Myers, 2005). Artistic involvement sen-
sitizes teachers to different learning styles and develops in them
a tolerance for ambiguity and an appreciation of divergent
thinking (Oreck, 2004; Upitis, 2005). Collaboration with artists
in experiential activities fosters creativity and in-depth learning
(Rowe, Castaneda, Kaganoff, & Robyn, 2004). A focus on
reflection, both through discussion of personal experiences and
reflective journals, provides a vehicle for linking theory and
practice (Wilkinson, 2000).
Balancing discipline-based knowledge with integrative teach-
ing strategies appears to foster teachers’ personal arts learning
and also a willingness to teach the arts in their own classrooms
(Andrews, 1997, 2006; Ingram & Reidel, 2003). In contrast,
teaching an arts discipline without reference to the classroom
context (e.g., a discipline-based workshop) has not been as
successful for encouraging teacher involvement in the arts
(Dorn & Jones, 1988). Education faculties should consider
developing in-service programs that balance arts knowledge
and skills with integrative activities across the curriculum.
However, such integrative activities must also foster learning in
each of the arts disciplines to achieve a balanced approach
(Brophy & Alleman, 1991; Berghoff, Borgaman, & Parr, 2003).
Artist involvement in creative learning activities enhances the
possibility of achieving this goal.
Concluding Comments
This inquiry focused on an examination of the involvement
of artist-teacher collaboration in professional development on
teacher practice. Findings indicate that it was the inspirational
settings in cultural institutions, creative learning activities with
artists, and the opportunities within the program to discuss and
reflect on their personal perspectives that promoted the teach-
ers’ personal expertise. Participation in a wide variety of arts
activities in cultural settings increased their confidence and
willingness to teach the arts in their own classrooms. The arts
activities with professional artists within the program enhanced
their tolerance for ambiguity and sensitivity to different learn-
ing styles. The reflective journal was a powerful tool for mak-
ing the practical theoretical. It enabled them to relate arts ex-
periences to learning theory, and to develop and nurture new
The major obstacles to implementing arts lessons in the
schools were inadequate resources, limited peer support, insuf-
ficient expertise to assess student achievement effectively, and
lack of time. These obstacles could be addressed through
teachers engaging in arts advocacy, developing cross-curricular
arts themes, enrolling in upgrading courses in evaluation, and
adopting an integrated approach to curriculum delivery, respec-
The findings of this study will be useful to those faculties of
education contemplating in-service programs involving artist-
teacher collaboration. Further inquiry needs to be undertaken to
determine best practices for artist participation in in-service and
also to understand the experienced practitioners’ vision of ap-
propriate professional development. Such knowledge would
enable faculties of education to develop partnership courses that
effectively enhance teachers’ arts learning and instructional
expertise in the arts.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 977
Author’s Bio
Bernie Andrews is Professor of Education at the University
of Ottawa. He has several years of experience in teaching, ad-
ministering and evaluating music and arts programs in school
and university settings. Currently, he teaches music certifica-
tion and graduate arts and creativity courses in the Faculty of
Education at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on
arts education partnerships, interactive teaching strategies, mu-
sical creativity, teacher development, and research methods.
Currently, Dr. Andrews is principal investigator of the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project,
entitled New sounds of learning: Composing music for young
musicians, in partnership with the Canadian Music Centre and
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