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Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement

March 29, 200629 March 2006

Article Link
http://www.nasaa-arts.org/publications/critical-evidence.shtml

Critical Evidence highlights, in non-technical language, the impacts of arts education with regard to academic achievement and student success. The report indicates that, despite strong research into the importance of arts education in a well-rounded education, “study of the arts is quietly disappearing from our schools”. In particular, “poor, inner-city and rural schools bear a disproportionate share of the losses”.

The report identifies six major types of benefits associated with arts education: reading and language skills; mathematical skills; thinking skills; social skills; motivation to learn; and positive school environment.

There is research evidence of the impact of learning in a range of arts disciplines:

  • dance has been used to develop reading readiness in very young children;
  • dance also helps students develop creative thinking skills, such as fluency, originality and abstract thought;
  • participation in dance by juvenile offenders helped their confidence, tolerance and persistence;
  • there is a strong relationship between drama and the development of literacy skills among young children;
  • certain types of music instruction help develop the capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, integral to the acquisition of mathematics skills;
  • music has also provided a context for teaching language skills;
  • music education boosted confidence and self-esteem among at-risk youth;
  • the visual arts help with reasoning skills and the interpretation of scientific images;
  • the visual arts helped boys in special education become more sophisticated and less reluctant readers.

  • The report cites a
    University of California at Los Angeles study that found that “students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement. Moreover, the high arts-involved students also watched fewer hours of TV, participated in more community service and reported less boredom in school.”


    Current research is also attempting to measure some subtle effects of arts education, such as the motivation to achieve and the ability to think critically.


    The report concludes that, “despite convincing research and strong public support, the arts remain on the margins of education, often the last to be added and the first to be dropped in times of strained budgets and shifting priorities”.

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