Research Methodology

The PAIR research encompassed four years of design, implementation and analysis.The Research and Program teams set forward on a process that would pinpoint, develop, and capture multiple sources of data for teaching and learning, in order to more fully put together the puzzle between the two pieces we knew we would have—standardized test scores and completed student art works. Over the course of planning, several principles set the foundation for how we would direct this research process.

Research is participatory and collaborative.
Our lead researchers worked closely with CAPE program staff, PAIR teachers and teaching artists to create research tools. Without this collaborative process, we would not have been able to accurately measure goals of the program.

Links between professional development, teacher impact and student learning must be established.
Finding the relationship, qualitatively and quantitatively, between teacher professional development impact and student learning was recurring topic of discussion. We knew that if we did not determine the relationship between these factors, the case to be made for this kind of program would be weakened. This focus brought together our researchers, and challenged us to think of different tools and analyses to more effectively communicate the impact of this work.

Standardized test scores cannot be the only measure of student learning.
Like many individuals and organizations working in this field, we know that standardized test scores do not account for the dimensions of learning that take place through this work. We agreed early on that this was not acceptable, and we had to create, and make reliable additional tools.

The types of data we collected for analyses are below. Each tool was designed or adapted specifically for this program:
  • Teacher end of year survey
  • Teacher PD surveys
  • Teachers Classroom documentation (including their written reflection and student work artifacts)
  • Student survey
  • Snapshot of Arts Integrated Learning student interview
  • Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) Academic Performance
  • Student and Teacher portfolio conferences
We included in our analysis other programmatic-based variables such as teacher years of participation in PAIR, teacher PD attendance, student years of participation in PAIR, and types of schools involved. These variables became critical lenses through which data sifted and often framed the analyses.

For CAPE going forward, it is critical to maintain the integrity of research. What does this mean? It means embracing the challenge of a full and complex research approach, including determining extensive data sources, innovating methods and tools to gather that data, and taking on the deep challenge of bridging that data to arrive at larger understandings and new questions. It means knowing that authentic research is taking the risk that you may not always see positive program results. Finally, it means working from a growing belief in the intrinsic, back-and-forth relationship of doing research, teaching, and art making.