Partnerships between Schools and the Professional Arts Sector
Evaluation of Impact on Student Outcomes
This evaluation document, as well as the accompanying literature review, examines the impacts of artist-in-residence and exposure-to-arts programs in schools and arts venues in Victoria, Australia. Data for the report were collected from “primary and secondary students, teachers, arts professionals and school leaders” using surveys, interviews, school documentation, and on-site observation.
The researchers conclude that “the school/arts partnership programs investigated had a positive impact on the five student outcomes”, which include student engagement, student voice, social learning, creative skills, and arts-related knowledge and skills. Findings from interviews and documents analysis were more conclusive in this regard than the attitudinal surveys of participants (which did not show a statistically significant difference before and after participation in the programs). The report provides details of the impacts for each of the student outcomes.
Regarding the characteristics of effective school/arts partnerships, the report highlights important aspects regarding each of the five student outcomes, including “relevant and purposeful content”, celebrating students as artists, “active student involvement in program design and planning”, strong community and parental involvement, “student choice in art-making”, “well-structured and mediated group work”, “creative approaches to generating ideas and problem solving”, as well as “regular exposure to and involvement in arts activities”.
Other important aspects include leadership and support within the school environment, a flexible approach from arts professionals, and active participation by teachers (alongside their students). Regarding the approach taken by arts professionals, the report found that “arts professionals approach learning and teaching differently to teachers. This is to be recognised and celebrated.”
Finally, the report highlights the fact that “creativity and creative skills appear to be complex concepts that all involved find difficult to define and discuss. This presents an opportunity for those involved in policy development in the arts and education sectors to develop shared understandings and common language about key concepts such as creativity, design and innovation as they apply to 21st Century skills.”