Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2011
Reflections of Pre-Service Elementary Teachers after Learning about an African Culture through Mask-making
Audrey C. Rule
Sarah E. Montgomery
University of Northern Iowa
Arts-integrated social studies projects can provide meaningful learning about another culture; yet, they are rare in the current assessment-focused climate. Similarly, students are under-exposed to projects that involve spatial reasoning; nonetheless, this skill is important in everyday life and the workplace. This article describes a mixed-methods study of 65 (59 female, 6 male) pre-service elementary teachers in a social studies methods course reflecting on their participation in an African mask-making project with first and second graders that incorporated both arts integration and spatial reasoning. Pre-service teachers identified discussion with others, example masks and images, and taking time as the most helpful mask-making strategies. Most pre-service teachers thought they would (42%) or possibly would (32%) implement mask making with their future elementary students because of deep, meaningful learning and active engagement they experienced and observed during the project. The authors concluded that pre-service teachers need multiple experiences with long-term arts-integrated projects that support the development of spatial skills to be confident enough to undertake them in their future classrooms and suggest that such projects be part of social studies methods courses.