Teacher Candidate Attitude Changes After Experiencing an Arts-Integrated Unit on Africa
University of Northern Iowa
This study of 65 elementary school teacher candidates enrolled in social studies methods classes examined attitudes toward currently contentious curriculum issues before and after participation in a practicum experience teaching an arts-integrated unit on Africa. These curriculum issues included arts-integrated project-based learning versus narrower skill-based lessons; the importance of creativity, leadership, organizational, and affective skills; and student-centered versus teacher-centered instruction. Attitudes were measured by teacher candidates placing themselves on each of ten continuums between endpoints representing opposing curriculum approaches and responding to open-ended questions. Statistically significant pre-post differences with medium effect sizes occurred on three of the continuums indicating that teacher candidates now placed greater value on arts-integrated curricula to teach social studies content; recognized that choice motivates students; and expressed more enjoyment of planning complex, long-term, student-centered projects. They recognized deep conceptual learning and engagement of elementary school students during the student-centered arts-integrated lessons but noted that the time and effort of complex project work were barriers to implementation. Social studies methods teachers need to involve teacher candidates in field experiences that offer authentic arts- integrated student-centered project work to allow them to adopt curriculum stances not experienced as elementary school students.