Monique and I have been thinking about our theoretical foundations as we explore the benefits of arts integration (we are writing a paper really). We came up with two distinct categories linked to learning. The first was cognitive. In this category we included the use of intertwined symbol systems in young children's' writing development as in Anne Dyson's work. The overlap between mental categories are also common to all academic domains e.g. careful observation unites science and visual art. Also the emphasis on motivation, engagement, and emotions as Burger and Winner claim. The work of social constructivists transfers us from the cognitive to higher order thinking and metacognition. Our claim that the process that Vygotsky identified as developmental carries over into mental operations in new domains- that is when we enter a domain we know very little about we have to rely on a semi-developmental progression from concrete to abstract ideas. Here enter Elliot Eisner and his emphasis on the mental operations connected to creativity, appreciation and complex processing. Efland and his focus on Metaphor as a key mental process fits the scheme here too.
I know this is a little heavy for a blog but these are the ideas we're exploring now.