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Celebrating the 250th Addition to ArtsEdSearch

Date: 21 August 2017

Education Commission of the States believes that informed policymakers are the best decision makers – by having the background, research, analysis and insights needed to make effective education policy, leaders across the country can take important steps to improve education outcomes for all students.

Five years ago, the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) established the ArtsEdSearch website, providing critical research to support policymakers in their decisions to expand access to high-quality arts education in their states and communities. This year, AEP is thrilled to announce the addition of the 250th research study to the ArtsEdSearch database, cementing the place of this important resource as a critical bookmark in any education leaders’ internet browser.

ArtsEdSearch is a clearinghouse of research on the outcomes of arts education for students and educators, both during and outside the school day. Through ArtsEdSearch, we compile, summarize and organize research conducted on the impact of the arts in education to inform policies and practices across the four priority areas of the 2020 Action Agenda.

The 250th study added to ArtsEdSearch is from the Youth Theatre Journal, and titled “Contribution of Drama-Based Strategies,” by Elain M. Walker, Lauren Bosworth McFadden, Carmine Tabone and Martin Finkelstein. Building on a stream of educational research focused on the impact of the arts on performance in non-arts academic subjects, this three year longitudinal study investigated the impact of integrating theatre arts into the language arts and social studies curricula on fourth- and fifth-grade students’ cognitive, procognitive and prosocial development through the Theatre Infusion project. The findings provided evidence on the contribution of the arts in strengthening students’ performance in the non-arts curricular areas.

The data revealed that students who were in the treatment group demonstrated significant improvement over students in the control group in language arts. Overall, students were 42% more likely to pass proficiency on a language arts state standards test, even after controlling for gender and socioeconomic background. Results for social studies improvement, however, were mixed. The earlier a student was exposed to theater arts integration, the more likely they were to earn higher grades.

This study has important implications for policymakers considering the inclusion and integration of arts and music into standard curriculum. The assumption that student learning in tested subjects can only be facilitated by direct instruction of these subjects is not supported by the results of this study, which finds arts integration as a more effective means of instruction for proficiency outcomes than direct instruction. Exposure to arts at an earlier trajectory of a student’s history increases success in future years, and lack of exposure decreases the success of a student.

This study has been added to the already large body of research from leading researchers in the field that spans across all arts disciplines and age levels. ArtsEdSearch is designed to be an interactive, living resource that will grow and evolve along with arts and education research and practice that users can explore through four different perspectives:

  • The outcomes of arts education for students.
  • The outcomes of incorporating arts into instruction for educators.
  • The outcomes of arts education that occurs during the school day.
  • The outcomes of arts education that occurs out-of-school.

For each of the perspectives above, you may choose to read a research overview, explore the research by age level, investigate the policy implications of the research and perform an advanced search to find studies specific to your work.

AEP developed ArtsEdSearch as a resource for policymakers, education stakeholders and leaders to better understand and articulate the role that arts education can play in preparing students to succeed in the changing contexts of the 21st Century.  Stay up to date on the latest research, policy and practice in the arts in education field by subscribing to the ArtsEd Digest and following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Title: 2280 Pasos Bajo un Cielo Nublado | Artist: Hernán Jourdan | Medium: Film

When I was asked to create a work of art exploring literacy, I wanted to create a dance but I had no dancers or a studio, so I chose to use my own body in the space I had, my yard. Fluent Nature is video of micro-choreography that explores what cannot be expressed with words, how nature has its own language, and how placing the human body in nature changes the story.

Title: What Is Me and What Is Not Me | Artist: Alex Chadwell | Medium: Music

My thinking on arts and literacy centers around the concept of literacies and artmaking as both sense-making and meaning-making processes that organically and inevitably overlap, intersect, and reciprocate. Compositionally, What is me and what is not me is a sound collage of sorts (there is no notation for the piece, and I'd be hard pressed to recreate it accurately) that abstractly and aurally represents the relationships between literacies and artmaking.

Title: A Curious Honeybee | Artist: Gideon Young | Medium: Film

Offering welcome through traditional and digital elements of literacy, A Curious Honeybee provides an experiential learning environment by activating visual, musical, natural, and emotional literacies.

Title: Tercera Llamada | Artist: Karilú Forshee | Medium: Audio

La Carpa Theatre is a project that I am currently directing in the Detroit Latinx community. The project aims to strengthen and uplift youth voices through devised theatre, in the style of the Mexican Carpas. This audio was created in the theatrical environment envisioned for our project. The ways in which literacies are re-defined are at the heart of La Carpa Theatre's mission.

Title: Literaseas | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite and ink on paper with digital edits

Title: A Riddle | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits

Title: False Binaries | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits