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Student Achievement: The Public Benefit
Key Research

Across the nation, the arts provide a more expansive means of educating American students and equipping them to participate fully in the workforce of the 21st century. Current research links arts experiences to academic achievement and personal development. Arts experiences strengthen students' understanding of themselves and each other and provide critical skills and competencies.

KCAAEN Arts Education Advocacy Tool Kit
© 2009 The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Thinking Through Art
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Institute for Learning Innovation, with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education

In 2003, Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to research learning in and from its multiple-visit School Partnership Program.

After one year of participation in the program, teachers reported that
  • Students applied learning strategies that they had learned in the museum back in the classroom
  • Teachers were able to adopt teaching strategies that they learned from the museum's education department
  • The museum provided a supportive learning environment rich in opportunities for personal and social development

Learning, Arts, and the Brain
The Dana Consortium Report

Dr. Michael S. Gazzaniga of the University of California at Santa Barbara led a three-year study to grapple with the question: Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter?

Studio Thinking Project
By Project Zero, an educational research group at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, funded by the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Ahmanson Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education

The Studio Thinking Project is a five-year investigation into how the arts are taught, what students learn, and the types of decisions teachers make in designing and carrying out instruction.

The Impact of Arts Education on Workforce Preparation
Economic and Technology Policy Studies Issue Brief
published by National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices, (c) 2002

The NGA Center for Best Practices helps governors and their key policy staff develop and implement innovative solutions to governance and policy challenges. NGA commissioned this issue brief to highlight the effectiveness of arts education in providing young people, particularly young people at the margins of our society, with the skills they need to be productive participants in today's economy.

Key findings:
 "Diverse arts education programs-in and out of school curricula-have proven to be valuable options for states seeking to develop advanced workforce skills for general, at-risk, and incarcerated students. With the help of the arts, governors can ensure that skills are developed effectively, completely, and to the best advantage of the states and their constituencies."

Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Achievement
Arts Education Partnership, Washington, D.C. (c) 2002

This definitive book summarizes AEP's second survey of research from across the nation on the benefits of arts education. The 62 studies highlighted in the compendium focus on the link between the arts and learning. Art forms studied include visual arts, dance, theater, music, and multidisciplinary arts.

Key findings:
Participation in the arts has a distinct ability to increase students' academic and social development.

  • "Skill and craft gained in the arts help students to understand that they can improve in other consequential activities and that their heightened skill can give pleasure to themselves and to others."

  • Research supports the role of the arts in assisting the development of academic skills, including basic and advanced literacy, both verbally and with numbers.

  • Well-crafted arts experiences produce positive social and academic effects.

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