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Research Priorities for Dance Education: A Report to the Nation

 

 

Research Priorities: A Report to the Nation contains an analysis and summation of the research uncovered during the Research in Dance Education project. The report’s purpose is to reveal the patterns, trends, and gaps of research produced between 1926 and the present. By illustrating research productivity in dance/movement education from its beginnings to the present, the report provides recommendations for dance education research in the twenty-first century. The report's recommendations are detailed below.

 

To download a full text copy of the Research Priorities for Dance Education: A Report to the Nation, click here.
   

Dance Education Research Needs and Recommendations

1. There is a need to understand patterns, trends, and gaps found in the RDE

    study 1926- 2002 and to pursue research in areas found most lacking.

  • U.S. Education Issues: Multicultural Education, Integrated Arts, Policy, Affective Domain, Interdisciplinary Education, Student Achievement, Equity, National Content Standards, Funding, Student Performance, Children at Risk, Certification, Teacher Standards, Uncertified Teachers, Brain Research, Learning Styles and Theories, and Kinesthetic Learning.
  • Populations Served: Community and Family, Administrators and Policy Makers, World Cultures, Different Abilities, Early Childhood, After School, Senior Citizens and Elderly, Outreach, Private Studios and Artists.
  • Areas of Service: Teacher Preparation and Training, Performing, Child Development, Critical Analysis, Interdisciplinary Education, Opportunities To Learn, Somatic Body Therapies, Resources, Research, Artists in Schools, Assessments of Teachers and Students, Technology, Cognitive Development, Higher Order Thinking and Problem Solving, Assessments for Program Effectiveness, Certification, Assessments at National, State, and LEA levels, State and LEA Standards, Licensure, Dance Science and Medicine, Creating and Choreographing Dance, and Creative Process.

2. There is need to strengthen teacher preparation and professional

    development programs in research environments of PreK-12 education,

    higher education, private schools of dance, outreach programs in

    performing arts organizations, and community and cultural centers.

 

    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that 

  • Colleges and universities provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to study and be engaged in basic research and its designs. Graduate students in particular are well served if their educational experience includes practical and theoretical understanding of research. By so doing, institutions in higher education will train future professionals to understand and respect a variety of research methods, techniques, and essential research characteristics that embrace quantitative to qualitative investigations. Providing fundamental information in research as it is referenced toward the scope of objectives in dance (theory, art, education) may allow young professionals to better understand the cross disciplinary importance and potential of research, stimulate their desire to learn more about research designs, and empower their ability to engage in research (by self and others) in unique and innovative ways.
  • Dance professionals who teach in diverse environments (PreK-12 education, private schools of dance, performing arts organizations, and cultural centers) promote professional development for their staff in partnership with local colleges and universities. Similarly, colleges and universities should regularly plan, and offer, professional development service opportunities to local and regional dance specialists working in diverse environments. Professional development provides wonderful vehicles for the creation of new partnerships, a better appreciation of local or regional resources and needs, and a more supportive professional network for colleagues in dance.
  • Colleges and universities that support dance teacher certification programs incorporate studies in education research into the training of PreK-12 dance specialist educators. It is important these young professionals understand the need for research in the PreK-12 environment, appreciate the nature and scope of the different research designs that are available to them (especially action research), learn how to engage their classroom as a laboratory, and take ownership in expanding the research knowledge base in teaching and learning in and through dance.
  • Graduate students be exposed to course work in basic statistics so they can intelligently read and critique reports and other professional papers. Understanding the language of statistical information, and how such information may serve a multitude of educational purposes, is essential to the professional dance educator.
  • Artists, educators, and administrators attend national conferences and regional seminars, as sponsored by the National Dance Education Organization, to enhance professional development in research inclusive of all environments -- PreK-12 education, higher education, private schools of dance, outreach programs in performing arts organization, and community and cultural centers.

3. There is a need to understand and implement a range of research designs

    supporting quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniques.
 

    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Dance education researchers work cooperatively to establish clearer definitions concerning research methodologies, techniques, and essential research characteristics. “Think tank” sessions should be conducted in which research terms and methodologies are discussed and clarified. Such sessions should be held periodically so terminology and concepts are contemporary and give direction to future research impacting dance in relation to the other arts, research, and education communities. Terminologies need to be defined for use within the dance discipline (PreK-12, higher education, private schools of dance, outreach programs of performing arts organizations, community and cultural organizations) as well as for connecting with other disciplines and constituents in the arts, research, and education communities.
  • Dance researchers be trained in tighter research methodologies so their research efforts have greater impact on the field of teaching and learning in and through dance, on education administrators, and on funding agents. 
  • Diverse research methodologies be used to explore and communicate the full range of the artistic and educational experience in dance. Descriptive and anecdotal accounts that communicate the arts experience are not seriously considered by some other research disciplines. In grant applications, the U.S. Department of Education requires experimental methodologies with a preference toward random sampling. The National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education now require that outcomes-based evaluation be included in the grant application and final reporting process. Young professionals need to learn to use different research tools so they and the discipline are informed and competitive.
  • Researchers contact the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts to inquire what government arts education databanks are accessible to the public for research, at that point in time. In prior years, access and grants have been awarded to researchers to use the National Assessments in Educational Progress (NAEP) databanks. The goal is to encourage researchers to glean more information from the vast amounts of data collected but, by no means, worked to their fullest potential.

4. There is a need to research intrinsic and instrumental values of dance

    education and their impact, or potential impact, on teaching and learning

    in and through dance.
 

    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Dance specialists research the processes of creating, choreographing, performing, and analyzing dance so educators, artists, and administrators in dance, arts, research, and education communities better understand different components of these processes.
  • Researchers investigate the artistic processes in dance (creating, performing and analyzing) in light of higher order thinking skills and processes of knowing and understanding. Such information will help educators better understand transfer of learning.
  • The focus of dance education is a quality arts experience. Research about the intrinsic artistic processes and products of dance education includes inquiry about the instrumental benefits to affective and academic domains.

5. There is a need to engage the dance community in research.
 

    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Dance professionals teaching in diverse education environments (PreK-12 education, higher education, private schools of dance, and performing arts organizations) understand and value the importance of research, how it contributes to the knowledge base of teaching and learning, and how their studios and classrooms can serve as laboratories for gathering important data.
  • Dance educators receive training in reflective inquiry and research in concert with their training in artistic processes. Assessment and action research could ultimately be an integral aspect of teaching dance. Collaboration with researchers on design and implementation will connect the dance educator to colleagues in their larger educational community and help validate the dance educator’s full and productive participation in the educational environment.
  • Research information and documents be made accessible to dance constituents (especially in PreK-12 education, private schools of dance, and performing arts organizations). There is significant need to access research data by these constituencies who are not connected to interlibrary loan systems. The RDEdb will certainly assist in this endeavor.
  • Existing studies and paradigms that have the potential to inform further research be carried to the next step or replicated so new and advanced studies build on prior research.
  • Research be conduced that addresses program outcomes and student achievement in after school and outreach programming. Significant arts related funding is dedicated to after school or outreach enrichment programs; yet, there is little research to support program objectives and effectiveness of these programs.
  • Research be conducted on what constitutes ‘model programs” and “best practices” so that criteria are developed to support federal and state funding already directed to “model programs” and “best practices.”

6. There is a need to expand community collaborations in research.
 

    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Dance educators from diverse environments at the community level (PreK-12, higher education, private schools of dance, and performing arts organizations) consider combining resources to pursue research endeavors. Collaborations of this nature would tend to reach the lesser served populations including: Artists, Private Studios, Community and Family, Administrators and Policy Makers, World Cultures, Different Abilities, Early Childhood, After School, Seniors and Elderly, and Outreach.
  • Partnerships be established with the higher education community to expand professional development, teacher training, and research endeavors available at the college or university level. Community networks help mentor professionals, stimulate research questions, discover and procure resources, and better connect individuals with their community, as well as with policy and funding.

7. There is a need to build collaborations with the research community in arts

    education.

  
    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Like other domains of knowledge in dance education, research is a specialty area that encompasses discrete content, skills, and knowledge. Until more dance educators are trained in research, dance specialists should work with research professionals from dance, arts, research, and education communities to learn more about research design and execution.
  • Dance educators in diverse environments (PreK-12 education, private schools of dance, performing arts organizations) engage research specialists to help design and implement research projects appropriate to their environments using their classrooms and studios as laboratories.
  • The dance community and neurological/medical research communities partner to pursue research in early childhood and motor development and its effects on thought processes and learning.
  • Research be conducted in movement education and its potential impact on brain structure and learning processes in early stages of child development.
  • Dance educators publish their research in a variety of research journals (in dance as well as other disciplines) to encourage collaboration and dissemination of research, and to further the inclusion of dance in educational discourse.

8. There is a need to address Policy and Funding issues concerning dance

    education in U.S. education.

   
    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Research be conducted on policy and funding in U.S. Education Issues, categorized more broadly as pedagogy (Multicultural Education, Integrated Arts, Interdisciplinary Education, Student Achievement, Student Performance, and Children at Risk); and education policy (Policy, Funding, Equity, National Content Standards, Certification, Teacher Standards, and Uncertified Teachers).
  • Research be conducted on policy and funding in Areas of Service, categorized more broadly as pedagogy (Interdisciplinary Education, Opportunities-to-Learn, Resources, Research, Artists-in-School programs, and Performing); and education policy (Teacher Preparation and Training, Assessments for Students and Teachers, Assessments for Program Effectiveness, Certification, Assessments at National, State, and LEA levels, State and LEA Standards, and Licensure).
  • Research be conducted on policy and funding in Populations involving Private Studios, Different Abilities, Early Childhood, After School, Outreach, and Seniors and Elderly, and Outreach.

9. There is a need for research on the learning preferences of diverse

    cultures.
 

    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that

  • Research is needed that examines learning patterns and preferences of the diverse populations of children in American schools.
  • Since many minority populations have been identified as kinesthetic learners, research is needed that examines the effects of dance education on student achievement in minority populations.

10. There is a need to establish one or more Center(s) for Research in Dance

    Education (CRDE) to move support research and the placement of dance in

    arts, research, and education communities.

  
    The Research in Dance Education project recommends that a Center for 
    Research in Dance Education

  • Provide professional development opportunities for dance educators to inquire, learn and practice research in dance education.
  • Facilitate the understanding of past research to better direct and replicate (to advance, not duplicate) future research.
  • Continue the document review and collection process so the database is maintained as a growing and contemporary body of knowledge for the discipline.
  • Evaluate the RDE database to develop new topics and research questions, better methodologies, and to further the research that is accomplished.
  • Conduct workshops and seminars that address the needs of the field in research, and sponsor “think tank” sessions that help the field define and clarify research terminology through field dialogue and consensus.
  • Expand the base of research to populations not currently served: Private Studios of dance, Artists, Early Childhood, Differently-abled, After School and Outreach programs, Seniors and the Elderly, Administrators and Policy Makers, Community and Families, and World Cultures.
  • Disseminate the use of research to inform diverse dance communities.
  • Preserve the work that is the heritage of research in dance education in full text form so that future generations of researchers will have the legacy available. Investigate digitalization to preserve historical documents and make them electronically available to the Research Center, the discipline, and the nation.
  • Serve as an advocate for advancing research in dance education using the scope and knowledge revealed in the Research in Dance Education project, the RDEdb, and Research Priorities for Dance Education.
  • Examine the recommendations in Research Priorities for Dance Education and stimulate new research informed by the Research in Dance Education project.
  • Strengthen partnerships and networks for research in dance education to support the work of the research center(s) and the field.

A Call to Action

Research Priorities for Dance Education: A Report to the Nation is a call to action for dance, arts, research, and education communities. The National Dance Education Organization urges the nation to heed this call for the good of future generations involved in all aspects of teaching and learning. Further, it is urged that both public and private funds support research in these domains for the good of the nation, and our children.
 

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