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Preparing Students for the Next America: The Benefits of an Arts Education

Also: Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed

September 11, 201311 September 2013

Arts education

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With 40 citations from a range of sources, this brief bulletin provides a useful summary of research findings regarding the benefits of arts education. Indicating that arts education is key “to ensuring students’ success in school, work, and life”, the research bulletin concludes that “every young person in America deserves a complete and competitive education that includes the arts”.

Regarding preparing students for school success, the bulletin notes that direct arts learning and arts-integrated instruction “engage students and increase learning and achievement”. The research findings cited in the study show that arts education:

  • Boosts literacy and English language skills.
  • Advances math achievement.
  • Engages students in school and motivates them to learn.
  • Develops critical thinking.
  • Improves school culture.

Regarding preparing students for workplace success, the bulletin indicates that “arts education develops thinking skills and capacities key to success in the 21st century workforce”. More specifically, arts education:

  • Equips students to be creative.
  • Strengthens problem-solving ability.
  • Builds collaboration and communication skills.
  • Increases capacity for leadership.

Regarding preparing students for life success and community engagement, the bulletin points out that arts education:

  • Strengthens perseverance.
  • Facilitates cross-cultural understanding.
  • Builds community and supports civic engagement.
  • Fosters a creative community.

With evidence from 23 music education research projects, a similar fact sheet from the Arts Education Partnership (Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed) indicates that “music education equips students with the foundational abilities to learn, to achieve in other core academic subjects, and to develop the capacities, skills and knowledge essential for lifelong success”. More specifically, the bulletin shows that music education:

  • Prepares students to learn (by enhancing fine motor skills, preparing the brain for achievement, fostering superior working memory, and cultivating better thinking skills).
  • Facilitates student academic achievement (by improving recall and retention of verbal information, advancing math achievement, boosting reading and English-language skills, and improving overall academic test scores).
  • Develops the creative capacities for lifelong success (by sharpening student attentiveness, strengthening perseverance, equipping students to be creative, and supporting better study habits and self-esteem).

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