ESCAPE Research

Research Aim of ESCAPE Online

ESCAPE -- the Equitable Science Curriculum integrating Arts in Public Education -- is a UC Irvine online professional development course funded by the National Science Foundation. The program is designed to be especially powerful in helping teachers address the challenges of teaching science content-specific vocabulary to English Language Learners through multi-modal methods, including hands-on inquiry-based learning, movement/dance, and visual art. The study investigates 1) the impact of a large-scale professional development program on teacher content and pedagogy knowledge and also 2) the impacts of integrating visual and performing arts (VAPA) approaches with science instruction, as compared to inquiry approaches, on the science learning of elementary students.  Specifically, researchers use qualitative and quantitative measures to determine: (a) any impact of VAPA-based versus inquiry-based science lessons; (b) any differences in order of approach (c) any heterogeneous impacts for VAPA approaches by ethnicity, SES, EL designation, and prior science knowledge; and (d) any differences in impact by format of professional development (in-person versus online).

The Intervention

Approximately 200 third, fourth, and fifth-grade teachers participating in the intervention will receive 60 hours of NGSS-aligned professional development in inquiry and arts-based strategies that is delivered completely online and outside of school hours.  They will then implement six one-hour novel NGSS-aligned ESCAPE lessons in their classrooms (reaching approximately 3600 students) during the following school year as a replacement of normal classroom instruction for the selected topics.  Approximately 60 teachers and 1,800 students will be randomly assigned into a control group and will complete testing in conjunction with normal classroom instruction (non-ESCAPE lessons) only.

Teachers Participating
Hours of Professional Development
NGSS-aligned Lessons Per Grade
Potential Students Impacted

Assessment

Teachers will be divided into two comparison groups: half will teach inquiry lessons first and half will teach VAPA lessons first. Students will be assessed on their science knowledge at three time points (before the lessons to establish baseline knowledge levels; after the first set of lessons to compare VAPA vs. Inquiry; and after the second set of lessons to look for ordering effects). Teachers will be assessed on their content and pedagogical knowledge at two time points (before and after participating in the professional development course), and will complete program satisfaction surveys and curriculum implementation logs, all outside of school hours. This research will have implications for how arts-integrated strategies can be best deployed in classrooms, schools, and districts to teach science.

Expected Benefits for Students, Teachers, and Schools

The ESCAPE Program will provide all participating teachers with considerable benefit, including in depth training in NGSS implementation, inquiry methodologies, and visual and performing arts strategies, all to be completed outside of school hours and at no cost to the district. The program also provides curricular materials for teacher use both during the program year and thereafter. As the program trainings and curricular materials are already completed, there would be no financial or time cost for the district.

Teachers in treatment groups will receive $1500 Stipend or 6 UCI quarter units upon completion of the program; Certificate in Teaching Elementary Earth Science Through the Arts. Teachers in control groups will receive a stipend of $150 per content area (earth, life, and physical science).

Through their participation in ESCAPE curriculum, we anticipate the following benefits for students: increased student engagement in science and equitable increases in achievement in earth science among all student populations, including low-SES and EL students. Students may build scientific language, and gain greater understanding of scientific concepts with fewer misconceptions.

At the district and school level, the ESCAPE program directly supports LAUSD’s initiatives to bring arts back into the classroom via STEAM programming. In addition, results from the studies conducted as part of this program will provide implications for the efficacy of the integration of STEAM and arts-based methods in the classroom. If the hypotheses about the usefulness of integrating arts-based techniques with inquiry-based science instruction are supported, the ESCAPE program will provide a blueprint to schools and districts for how to integrate and implement STEAM practices across subject areas.

Previous Research

The Impact of Arts- and Inquiry-Based Instruction on the Life Science Knowledge of Fifth Graders | AERA 2018

B. Hughes, C. Mulker Greenfader, S. O’Toole Andersen, J. Wong, & D. Bailey

The increasing national demand for science-related skills has highlighted the import of early, effective science education. Yet elementary classroom teachers often feel underprepared to teach science. The present examines two potential approaches to science instruction: inquiry and visual and performing arts (VAPA). 711 fifth graders received three VAPA-based and three inquiry-based life science lessons, and their life science knowledge was assessed at three time points, prior to the intervention and after each set of lessons. Classrooms were randomly selected to receive either the VAPA-based or inquiry-based lessons first. Multiple regressions indicate that inquiry lessons versus VAPA lessons give fifth graders a boost on life science knowledge and there may be an additive benefit of receiving both.

Evaluation of Inquiry and VAPA Methods to Reverse the Science Misconceptions of Fourth Graders | AERA 2018

B. Hughes, C. Mulker Greenfader, S. O’Toole Andersen, J. Wong, & D. Bailey

Science misconceptions are a threat to science learning in elementary grades. The current study examines inquiry- and visual and performing arts (VAPA)-based methods as a means to debunk science misconceptions of 1,620 fourth graders. Multiple regressions are used to compare the impacts of the two methods. Focus group data is examined to gain insight into teachers’ perspectives of utilizing inquiry- and VAPA-based lessons. Findings suggest inquiry-based lessons might aid in debunking the science misconceptions of fourth graders, especially when given to students first, followed by VAPA-based lessons.

A Comparison of Arts- and Inquiry-based Methods for Teaching Elementary Science & the Reversal of Misconceptions | NARST 2018

B. Hughes, C. Mulker Greenfader, S. O’Toole Andersen, J. Wong, & D. Bailey

Science misconceptions are a threat to science learning in elementary grades. The current study examines inquiry- and visual and performing arts (VAPA)-based methods as a means to debunk science misconceptions of 1,620 fourth graders. Multiple regressions are used to compare the impacts of the two methods. Focus group data is examined to gain insight into teachers’ perspectives of utilizing inquiry- and VAPA-based lessons. Findings suggest inquiry-based lessons might aid in reversing the science misconceptions of fourth graders, especially when given to students first, followed by VAPA-based lessons.

A Comparative Study of Inquiry-based, Arts-based, and Arts-Inquiry Integrated Methods for Elementary Science Instruction

Equitable Science Curriculum integrating Arts in Public Education

Through this study, we seek to determine any differences in:  (1) student outcomes by approach (VAPA integration vs. inquiry); and  (2) order of approach (VAPA-integration or inquiry-based lessons first). Further, we (3) examine any heterogeneous impacts of the different styles and order for students based on SES, ethnicity, EL status, and prior science knowledge. Finally, we (4) explore implications for implementation strategies to be considered by teachers and curricular designers adopting experimental VAPA-based approaches with analysis comparing either replacing or adding VAPA-based approaches to traditional inquiry-based curricula.

We found similar effectiveness for the experimental VAPA-based treatment compared to the traditional inquiry-based control, suggesting that VAPA could potentially replace inquiry as a viable method for science instruction. Our study also found that the integrating VAPA-based approaches in addition to inquiry-based curriculum leads to significant gains in student science achievement. Furthermore, the replacement of inquiry approaches with VAPA approaches may be just as effective for increasing student achievement in science. We hope that identifying the potential positive impact of incorporating VAPA instructional approaches in elementary science education will help to inform teachers, schools, and districts as they consider whether to integrate arts-based strategies in the classroom.