The Impact of Arts Education: What Do We Know?


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OECD Conference Educating for Innovative Societies on 26 April 2012 - Session 4: Arts Education in Innovation-Driven Societies - The Impact of Arts Education: What Do We Know? by Ellen Winner, Boston College

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The Impact of Arts Education: What Do We Know?

  1. 1. Obama‟s 2008 platform on the arts•To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs toreinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has made this countrygreat. To do so, we must nourish our children‟s creative skills. In addition togiving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the the ability tonew global context, we should also encouragethink creatively that comes from ameaningful arts education. Unfortunately, many schooldistricts are cutting instructional time for art and music education.
  2. 2. May 2011“Due to budget constraints and emphasis on the subjects of high stakes testing, arts instruction in schools is on a downward trend.”
  3. 3. Minor role, strong TRANSFER claims...
  4. 4. Studies have shown that involvement in the artshelps kids increase test scores and promotesacademic achievement. Kids who are involved inthe arts are--4 times more likely to be recognized foracademic achievement3 times more likely to be elected to class officewithin their schools4 times more likely to participate in a math andscience fair3 times more likely to win an award for school
  5. 5. “Saving” kids through the arts “We‟re going to try to move forward all the kids who were left behind by „No Child Left Behind‟ – the kids who have talent or a passion or an idiosyncratic perspective. Those kids are important too and they should have a place in society. It’s very often the arts that catches them.” Rocco Landesman Chairman of NEH 2009“Landesman doesn’t defend arts educationas a rigorous discipline…Instead, thepurpose is salvation. Some students don’t fitthe NCLB [No Child Left Behind] regime andother subjects don’t inspire them. Talentedbut offbeat, they sulk through algebra, actup in the cafeteria, and drop out of school.The arts “catch” them and pull them back,turning a sinking ego on the margins into acreative citizen with a “place in society.”Bauerlein 2010 Education Next
  6. 6. Why expect transfer?
  7. 7. Difficulty of demonstrating transfer ...even with plausible hypothesisDesign of studyQuality of arts instruction
  8. 8. Our forthcoming OECD book reports•Creativity Outcomes on:•Cognitive Outcomes•Motivational Outcomes•Social Skills Outcomes•Brain Outcomes
  9. 9. Multi-Arts and Cognitive Outcomes: What We Know Thus Far
  10. 10. Null/Multi-Arts Significant InconsistentREAP Correlational (10) Significant ESREAP Experimental (6) Non-significant ESMusic (0)Visual Arts (0)Correlational (2) Significant, but 1 study self-reported originalityQuasi-experimental (1) Non-significantTheatre (0)Correlational (1) SignificantExperimental (2) SignificantDance (0)Correlational (1) 0 Non-significantQuasi-experimental (2) SignificantExperimental (2) Significant
  11. 11. Multi-Arts and Cognitive Outcomes: What We Know Thus Far
  12. 12. Motivational Outcomes: Multi-Arts Students takingAll correlational arts scoreReap and post-REAP No difference higherAcademic self-concept 2 0Attendance 6 1Aspirations 3 0Attitude 1 3Drop out 1 1Engagement 13 2Persistence 1 0
  13. 13. Multi-Arts and Cognitive Outcomes: What We Know Thus FarA claim that does not hold up
  14. 14. Example of Correlational Finding: SAT Data from College Board Verbal SAT Score as a Function of High School Arts Courses 455 455460 452 452450 432440 427 432 427430 422 422420 413 413410400390 None 1 yr. 2 yrs. 3 yrs. 4 yrs. Over 4 yrs.
  15. 15. Example #2 of Correlational Data: James Catterall
  16. 16. Arts and math/verbal/composite achievement (REAP)
  17. 17. International Studies Fail to Replicate•UK: Arts track: lower performance GCSE•Netherlands: no difference
  18. 18. Non-Causal ExplanationsFamiliesSchoolsDriveStrategy
  19. 19. Hypothesis: arts improve academiclearning via the indirect route ofchanging school culture --more constructivist, inquiry based, project based learning?
  20. 20. Multi-Arts and Cognitive Outcomes: What We Know Thus Far
  21. 21. 2009
  22. 22. Multi-Arts and Cognitive Outcomes: What We Know Thus Far
  23. 23. •4-6 yr olds randomly assigned to musiclistening/painting group computerizedlessons led by teacher 2 hr/wk, 5 days/wk,4 wks.•••
  24. 24. • musically trained children do well in school above and beyond what would be predicted by their IQ (Schellenberg, 2006).• Higher IQ children study instruments (Schellenberg)• Personality trait of conscientiousness, which is known to be related to academic performance, predicts persistence with an instrument. (Schellenberg)• If lessons in other art forms involved the same combination of school-like activities...
  25. 25. Multi-Arts and Cognitive Outcomes: What We Know Thus Far
  26. 26. • Training in looking closely at paintings and describe them in detail improves doctors‟ ability to diagnose disorders from photos of people (but this need not involve art)--Dolev et al. 2001• Training in looking at and describing works of art improves 9-10 year olds ability to interpret a scientific image (a fossil record of two intersecting footprints)--Tishman et al 1999
  28. 28. Our Approach
  29. 29. 3 stepsStep 1: Analyze learning in parent domainStep 2: Assess learning in parent domainStep 3: Test plausible hypotheses about learning transfer
  30. 30. Potentially TransferableCognitive Habits of Mind
  31. 31. Stretch and ExploreJust play around and maybe you‟ll learn a new techn
  32. 32. ObservationLearning to See potential transfer domains? biology... writing...
  33. 33. EnvisioningWhat You Can‟t See Generating andManipulating Mental Images potential transfer domains geometry... geography
  34. 34. potential transfer domains?Reflection everywhere!Meta-cognition Evaluating Explaining
  35. 35. Expression“Art is beyond technique” potential transfer domains? writing with a personal voice...
  36. 36. Don‟t look for transfer unless you could explain it if you found it....unless you believe in magic
  37. 37. ConclusionsMore experimental (not correlational) studiesStudies should be based on hypotheses related to learningin the relevant art formGreater transfer should be predicted by greater learning inthe art formExamine effects of teaching a non-arts domain byintegrating the arts; compare to traditional method ofteaching same domainConsider the hypothesis of arts as entry points but only forcertain kinds of students
  38. 38. No transfer = lack of / justification •Intrinsic merits•Double edged sword: direct always better