Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Dr. Patricia Austin

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Speaker

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Beabout

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Christopher Broadhurst


Increased metacognition, social-emotional growth, and career viability are all researched benefits of including the arts as part of core content instruction, with even greater impact for struggling students, English Language Learners, and students with special needs. Some turnaround schools that are federally funded School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools are beginning to implement an arts-rich method of school reform by teaching core content both through and in the arts. This approach is most often presented as a choice in the high-stakes testing environment of turnaround schools. Since teachers have the most direct impact on students, yet a relatively low amount of authorship in the way school reform is approached, their voice and experience is highlighted in this phenomenological study.

The participants are from three public turnaround schools in the South. The researcher used traditional research methods layered with an arts-based research approach mirroring the techniques used in an arts-rich classroom. The researcher found that participants experienced their work as a vocational calling, used methods of engaged pedagogy, and experienced a number of roadblocks to their work. They swiftly moved through these roadblocks to create pathways leveraging the arts to change their curriculum and classroom contexts, applied the arts as an access point for content areas, and then experienced the use of an art-rich classroom as a contagious practice. Potential implications for this study include a scalable model for turnaround schools, investment in engaged pedagogical practice for turnaround schools, and increased agility for teachers to become curriculum bricoleurs.


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