Final Report of Findings Evaluation of Geometry Through Dance Residency. Lauren Raff, M.A., M.P.H., Independent Evaluation Consultant

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1 Final Report of Findings Evaluation of Geometry Through Dance Residency Lauren Raff, M.A., M.P.H., Independent Evaluation Consultant Background In February and March 2014, the Center for Arts Inspired Learning (CAL) coordinated and implemented the Geometry Through Dance residency program for Archbishop Lyke Middle School (Archbishop Lyke) located in Cleveland, Ohio. This residency was designed to enable 6 th, 7 th, and 8 th grade students to use dance and music to learn and reinforce geometry concepts relevant to their current math studies. The teaching artists are members of Art Sparks, a Cleveland-based dance troop that has worked with and through CAL since In the school year, CAL and Art Sparks developed a residency for Archbishop Lyke focused on exercise and healthy eating. The school s positive experience with CAL and Art Sparks was the impetus for creating the Geometry Through Dance residency. Working in collaboration with CAL and Archbishop Lyke, Art Sparks created curriculum for seven one-hour sessions geared specifically for classes in each of the three participating grade levels. The sessions prepared the students for a final performance showcasing students achievements to faculty and parents. Outcomes As part of CAL s approach to developing workshops and residencies, initial preparation for the Geometry Through Dance residency involved the identification of specific, measurable programmatic outcomes which were translated into evaluation questions. CAL defined the following specific learning goals for students participating in the Geometry Through Dance residency: Gains in new information about geometry Reinforcement of geometry concepts Preparation for math testing on geometry CAL expects all its programs will achieve the following outcomes for students: Engagement in and enjoyment of the program Participation in a final performance/culminating event to demonstrate learning Gains in knowledge about the selected art form Opportunities to make artistic choices and/or create original art work CAL has also identified the following outcomes for all their teaching artists: Artists will connect the program to non-arts subject matter Artists will demonstrate high-level artistry and creative techniques to present content Artists will connect the program to the students personal experiences Artists will provide the students with effective direction and encouragement Lauren Raff Consulting: Evaluation of CAL s Geometry Through Dance Residency 1

2 Evaluation CAL is committed to learning through evaluation; CAL staff routinely distributes evaluation surveys to teachers and coordinates a committee of trained volunteers who observe and evaluate a wide range of CAL programming. Special funding provided through the MetLife Foundation enabled CAL to significantly expand its evaluation efforts for the Geometry Through Dance residency. To capture visual, spoken, and written evidence of desired program outcomes, CAL engaged professionals Lauren Raff, an independent evaluation consultant specializing in education evaluation and Carla Carter, an experienced videographer and CAL teaching artist. The evaluation consultant worked with CAL and Art Sparks staff to develop qualitative and quantitative data collection instruments that could measure aspects of program delivery and impact from all relevant audiences: students, classroom teachers, school administrators, and teaching artists. CAL staff facilitated discussions between the evaluation consultant and the videographer to work out the logistics of filming the residency in action and interviewing students and faculty at the school. CAL staff, the evaluator, and the videographer collaborated to tell the story of this residency through print and visual media. Throughout all aspects of the evaluation, CAL worked with school administrative staff to ensure teachers had time to participate in interviews and students had appropriate permission from parents to be interviewed and filmed. Methodology Students from each grade were invited to a brief focus group interview held at school immediately following one of their Geometry Through Dance learning sessions. Six students from 6th grade, five from 7th, and six from 8th grade participated in the group interviews facilitated by the evaluator and filmed by the videographer. Responses from these interviews were used to develop a final student survey (see attached) measuring perceptions of the teaching artists and the learning outcomes. A total of 93 surveys were completed from among 98 students across the three participating grades. 1 The evaluator conducted and the videographer filmed one-on-one interviews with four teachers and the school principal. Five classroom teachers were also given a modified CAL survey for teachers (see attached), which included the student learning outcomes specific to the Geometry Through Dance residency. Findings: Student Learning In the final survey, students responded to these two statements about the impact of the residency on their learning of geometry: The residency helped me grasp difficult geometry concepts, such as different kinds of angles. and I feel better prepared for math tests on geometry because of my participation in the Geometry Through Dance program. The chart below reveals students response ratings to each statement. Findings show the majority of students (82%) responded that the residency helped them somewhat, very much, or extremely with understanding geometry concepts and with feeling prepared for math tests. 1 Two students did not attend the residency and three students were absent the day of survey administration. Lauren Raff Consulting: Evaluation of CAL s Geometry Through Dance Residency 2

3 Student Learning Outcomes I feel better prepared for math tests on geometry 28% 33% 22% Not at all Very little Somewhat Very much The residency helped me grasp difficult geometry concepts 36% 33% 13% Extremely 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% In addition to the two closed-ended questions, students were asked to write, in their own words, how the residency helped them to learn about and remember geometry. Sixty-eight (68) students responded. Some students wrote about how the residency helped them learn specific aspects of geometry. It helped me remember that acute angles are smaller than right angles. Geometry Through Dance helped me learn about geometry by helping me remember how big the shapes are and how many sides there are. The Geometry Through Dance helped me learn more about triangles -that an isosceles has two sides that are the same and one is different. A number of students wrote about how the dance moves and music helped them to remember what they were learning. The phrases we said while dancing sticks in my head. The music was broken down into shapes; our dances were in resemblance to geometric shapes. Geometry Through Dance helped me learn about geometry, it refreshed my brain from when I learned it years ago. It helped me learn about geometry because we made songs about triangles, squares, and lines that help me remember what they are. In focus group interviews, students from all grades referred to the way the music and dance moves helped them to remember the geometry concepts; several students said the dance moves and the words they used during the dance stick in their head. One student said, Learning through dance rather than books keeps kids interested. Students shared that they go home and perform their dances for other family members. Seventh- and eighth-grade students in the group interviews instinctively got out of their chairs to perform aspects of the dances they were learning to show how they reflect the geometry concepts. One student showed the choreography for an isosceles triangle and several showed how the robot dance is used to show various angles. Additionally, during the group interviews, these same students performed the dance they had learned in the previous year s residency concerning exercise and health eating. Eighth-grade students even joked about performing their Art Sparks dances at their graduation. Lauren Raff Consulting: Evaluation of CAL s Geometry Through Dance Residency 3

4 Through survey responses and filmed interviews, teachers gave their perspectives on how students were learning through the Geometry Through Dance residency and how they built on the residency experiences when the students returned to their classrooms. The final survey asked teachers to gauge their perceptions of student learning from the Geometry Through Dance residency. All five teachers gave high positive ratings, checking categories of quite a bit and a great deal, in response to each the following statements about students: (Students) learned new information about geometry topics covered in the program (Students) reinforced what they already learned about the geometry topics covered in the program (Students) are better prepared for tests on geometry as a result of the program Some teachers commented on how this residency enabled them to learn new teaching strategies and ways to engage and motivate the students using music and movement. In her interview, the 7 th and 8 th grade math teacher described how the students were learning: I witnessed (the Art Sparks teachers) teaching circles, circumference, and radius. When I go to teach (those topics) in two weeks, they are prepared and they can just cruise I am looking at positions of the body so when I teach this, I can say remember when you did this move to learn triangles and circles. I think I will see a difference in test scores. This same teacher shared that her own daughter was learning geometry in another school and she brought the dance moves home to show her daughter because she saw the benefits her own students were making through the residency. Yet another teacher said, Watching (the Art Sparks teachers) explain the different triangles and showing them angles with their bodies I was amazed how they were able to get the kids interested through dance and movement. Findings: Student Experience The chart below reveals student responses to questions about their experience of the residency. Eighty-five percent (85%) of students would like their school to have more arts programming to teach non-arts subjects. Eighty percent (80%) of students indicated they much felt the residency was very much or extremely fun, and 82% chose the options, very much or extremely in response to the statement, I felt proud of my work at the final performance. Student Experience I felt proud of my work at the final performance 33% 49% Not at all The Geometry Through Dance program was fun 41% 39% Very little Somewhat Very Much I would like to see my school have more programs that use art to teach other subjects 22% 63% Extremely 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Lauren Raff Consulting: Evaluation of CAL s Geometry Through Dance Residency 4

5 In focus group interviews, students emphasized the fun aspect of the Geometry Through Dance residency and that they realized how they can learn and have fun at the same time. One eight-grade student said that she went home and taught her family the dance moves (from the residency) and they all had fun doing them together. Through their survey responses, teachers indicated that they believed the students were engaged throughout the program. All five teachers selected a great deal in response to the statement that the students, were able to show what they had learned through the final performance. However, teachers did not give high positive ratings to the statement about students having an opportunity to make artistic choices or create original work in the art form, a desired outcome for CAL programming. Additionally, one teacher and three students wrote comments on their survey that they would like to see Art Sparks use more current or trending dance styles. Findings: Teaching Artists Through surveys and interviews, students and teachers were asked specific questions reflecting the goals and outcomes that CAL maintains for all its teaching artists. Student surveys contained three measures of perceptions of the teaching artists as residency leaders. The chart below reflects student responses to these measures. The majority (more than 55%) selected the category, extremely to rate Art Sparks staff on their respect for students, their provision of clear and helpful directions, and their ability to make students feel good about their work. Teaching Artists The teachers were respectful to students 11% 87% Not at all The teachers provided clear and helpful directions 29% 63% Very little Somewhat Very Much The teachers made us feel good about our work 29% 57% Extremely 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% The focus group interviews reinforced students positive perceptions of the Art Sparks teaching artists. One student said that the teaching artists worked with each student to make sure they understood the dance and geometry concepts before the whole group would move forward with learning. Several students said they found the Art Sparks staff inspiring. Teachers survey responses were extremely positive in regard to every outcome identified for teaching artists. All teachers agreed the teaching artists were on time and prepared to teach. They believe the teaching artists provided high-level artistry and creative techniques and direction and encouragement to students. They also saw that Art Sparks artists created sessions connected to non-arts learning and to student s personal experiences. Lauren Raff Consulting: Evaluation of CAL s Geometry Through Dance Residency 5

6 Findings: Additional Outcomes Positive Student Behavior Through open-ended survey questions and group and individual interviews, students and staff made links between participation in the residency and increases in positive student self-expression and self-confidence. In her interview, the school principal shared that the residency gave her a valued opportunity to approach a student who had often acted out in a negative way and praise him for his positive participation in the residency. In focus group interviews, students talked about how some students can be disruptive in class and that those students were less likely to be disruptive after a residency session because they released energy through dancing. They said they thought this program could be good in public schools where they believe kids are often being disruptive and acting out. One eight-grade student said, A lot schools are cutting music, art programs and dance, this (residency) is bringing back expressing yourself through movement and not having to express yourself through other means that are wrong or violent. One teacher wrote, Students came out of Art Sparks more motivated to learn. Another wrote, Self-confidence was obtained and students were able to see that they could be successful. They could accomplish their goals. Exercise Students and staff valued the way the residency allowed them to use their bodies and get exercise while they learn. (The residency is a) good way for us to stay active. If you are really into it and doing everything right, you will get a work out. We are getting energy and learning at the same time (The residency is a) good way to keep learning, to exercise, and to keep striving for excellence. One teacher wrote, It reinforces learning for kinesthetic and musical learning styles for students. It also promotes exercise. And one student shared that her mother was trying to lose weight and she went home and taught her the dance so they could exercise together. Evaluators Perspective Survey and interview data evidence that the Geometry Through Dance was a positive, successful learning experience for Archbishop Lyke students and staff as well as for Art Sparks teachers and CAL as the provider organization. Because of their experience in the prior school year, Archbishop Lyke appreciated what the residency could do for its students and was extremely cooperative with all aspects of the evaluation process. Through data collection, students and staff confirm that the residency met the specific learning and experiential goals and outcomes set for this program. Students and teachers can see and articulate the ways that art can be used to teach non-arts subject matter, and they desire more programming of this nature. Students are remembering and sharing their dances with family and friends, suggesting the potential for impact beyond the school setting. Art Sparks teaching artists received extremely high ratings on the way the interacted with the students; this reflects well on Art Sparks and CAL. As stated earlier in the report, CAL is committed to using evaluation to learn and enhance programming. The data indicate that there is room for improvement in the area of enabling students to make artistic choices. The recommendation from students and a teacher to incorporate current dance styles could be the perfect way for Art Sparks to meet this desired outcome. Lauren Raff Consulting: Evaluation of CAL s Geometry Through Dance Residency 6

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