Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD

Second Reader

Robin Gayle, PhD, MDIV, MFT


Incorporating arts education can be a valuable intervention for students in an urban setting. Teaching through the arts can act as an initial, Tier One intervention, for students who exhibit disruptive behaviors in the classroom, due to trauma, as well as benefit the overall classroom culture. The arts curriculum has a restorative power that allows students to learn social-emotional regulation skills, bodily-awareness, and expression.

This study examines dance as an art form. Dance is a form of art that allows students to express their emotions and release energy to support positive behavior in the classroom. Data were collected on 25 kindergarten students, with a sub group of four students who exhibit disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Whole class behavioral data were collected prior to and during the art block. Students filled out an emotional self-evaluation before and after each dance class. The researcher also collected data from pre and post intervention interviews with four students identified for the case studies. Researcher observations were also noted in the data. The process of examining data from several sources, triangulation, was instrumental in creating a balanced picture of the impact of dance on students.

Findings indicated that dance instruction for this population has mixed results. The case study students that exhibit disruptive behaviors appeared reluctant to participate in dance lessons. It was noted that some students became interested in learning about the classroom teacher’s background in dance. This led to an increase in student social contact and extended communication with the teacher. Overall behavioral reflections and referrals were lowered during implementation of the dance intervention.