Vicki R. Lind, University of California Los Angeles,

Kris Alexander, The California Arts Project,

Armalyn De La O, RIMS California Arts Project,


Professional development continues to be a critical issue in education. We have come to the understanding that meaningful change in education can only occur when teachers are involved. If we truly want to insure a high quality education for our students, we must find ways to provide teachers with meaningful learning opportunities. In a recent report published by the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, high quality professional development programs were described as those that support teachers in meeting the needs of diverse learners; provide adequate time for practices that involve inquiry, reflection, and mentoring; are subject centered; and are rigorous, leading to long-term change.

This presentation will focus on a model of professional development, The Collaborative Design Institute that reflects the components outlined by the NFIE. The Collaborative Design Institute (CDI) was designed to support and encourage arts educators to increase their understanding of student learning in the arts; broaden their knowledge of the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards; build upon their repertoire of teaching methods and assessment strategies; improve leadership skills; and assume leadership roles within the education system. The model of professional development was designed by teachers involved in The California Arts Project and has been implemented across the state of California. This presentation will provide an overview of the institute model and will outline the results of research investigating the impact of participation on music teaching practices.

The Model

The Collaborative Design Institute is designed to bring together groups of arts educators to develop and field-test standards-based instructional units. The conceptual framework for the Institute is based on Understanding by Design (Wiggins and McTighe), The Teaching Gap (Stigler and Hiebert.), The California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards, and The California Visual and Performing Arts Framework. Over the course of a year, participants engage in three areas of professional development: 1) curriculum design, 2) creative practice, and 3) arts leadership. Participants work collaboratively to design, implement, and assess units of study using the “backwards design” model outlined by Wiggins and McTighe. Each discipline specific cadre field-tests a single lesson from the unit by having a teacher implement the lesson in the classroom while other cadre members observe. Through peer observation focused specifically on student understanding and learning, lessons are revised and refined.

Throughout the institute, teachers are encouraged to engage in the creative process as artists through the exploration of a creative inquiry. Music teachers spend time during the institute and throughout the school year actively involved in music making by singing, playing, or composing. In addition, teachers involved in the institute are informed about current arts education issues, recent research findings, and opportunities for further involvement in arts education at the local and state level.


Along with an overview of the model and a description of the components, results of a research study investigating the experiences of six music teachers involved in the Collaborative Design Institute during the 2004-2005 school year will be presented.