The Difference between Integration and Enhancement

By |2018-03-15T10:21:48-07:00July 29th, 2014|

What does integration look like to you?  If your first thought leans toward images of cute projects on Pinterest, shadow boxes or having your students sing a song to help memorize the names of the states, you might be confusing arts integration with arts enhancement.  This is such a common misperception, and one that even those trained in the arts integration approach have difficulty with occasionally.  In today’s video, I’m going to share with you the difference between integration and enhancement, and how you can use one to move to the other.

Key Notes from this Video:

  • The big question you need to ask yourself is “what standards am I teaching and assessing?” to discover whether  you are integrating or enhancing.
  • Arts enhancement is NOT an evil word!  Arts enhancement helps to encourage creativity in the classroom and can motivate students.
  • Arts integration takes the benefits of arts enhancement and super sizes them by deeply activating inquiry, application and evaluation cognitive demand levels in students.
  • You must teach and assess both standards equitably and intentionally for arts integration to occur.


What additional questions or comments do you have about this distinction?  Let’s start a discussion in the comments area below!



  1. Dee July 29, 2014 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Susan, I loved your video! I am planning to implement an Action Research Project at my elementary school on Authentic Arts integration . I am an art teacher and want to collaborate with my staff to maximize our students learning potential through arts and technology integration. I would love to know of as many resources as possible. Have you written a book on this topic or can you recommend some online resources?

    • susanedcloset July 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Dee! Thanks for getting in touch. Yep – I wrote the book Shake the Sketch which documented my own Arts Integration Action Research Project and shares ways to build buy-in and document the process. You might want to check that out (it’s on amazon) as well as the book Artful Teaching, which I think is a “must-have” if you are starting this work. So clear and written in a no-nonsense way. Finally, we offer online classes in Arts Integration where your assignments are meant to prepare you to lead this kind of work in your building. You might want to check out our learning platform, EC Learning Studios at and take the self-paced class Foundations of Arts Integration. Would love to hear about your progress in this exciting adventure!

  2. Dawn Getzandanner May 2, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Great video on the difference. I am doing a workshop with Spring Ridge Staff on May 19th and I will definitely be using this video as part of our day. One question I had related to the use of the Artful Thinking Strategies. If we do an artful thinking strategy and just use the picture to discuss a content standard, but not really discuss the art techniques that were used- is this considered an enhancement- or since students are using the art to understand the content, does it then count as integration? Does it become a critique of the piece if we simply do I see, Think, Wonder?

    • Susan Riley May 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      Great question, Dawn. In my mind, if you’re only using the artwork to discuss the content standard and are not touch upon the art elements or techniques, then it’s enhancement. The meat of using those strategies is where students are connecting the processes between the arts and the content and fluidly moving through both. Always ask the question, am I using one part to SERVE the other? If the answer is yes, then it’s enhancement. If both areas are being lifted up and explored deeply with equity, then it’s integration. 🙂

  3. Beth M September 21, 2016 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    I love this video. I am doing a presentation on the Role of the Art Teacher in arts integration. I would love to embed this video in my prezi – is this video available on youtube? That seems to be the only way to add a video to a prezi. 🙂

    • Susan Riley September 21, 2016 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      Hey there Beth! So glad you liked this. It’s not on YouTube, but you should still be able to embed it. If you click on the square with an arrow, you’ll see the ability to either get the embed code or to download the video (which you can then upload into your prezi). Hope that helps!

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