The arts aren't just
A new study that highlights the benefits of student involvement in the arts raises significant curriculum issues, says the Australia Council.
for art's sake
The study - funded by the Australian Research Council, in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts - found that students who were involved in the arts had higher school motivation, engagement in class, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
The results, published in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of Educational Psychology, found students who participated in dance, drama, music, and visual arts showed more positive academic and personal wellbeing outcomes than students who were not as involved in the arts.
Australia Council Acting Director Community Partnerships, Dr David Sudmalis said the results raised significant policy implications for how arts-based learning is integrated into the school curriculum.
“Not only does this study demonstrate that the arts help deliver positive outcomes in engagement and motivation for students outside of the arts domain, it also shows that high quality, participatory arts education has the greatest impact,” Dr Sudmalis said.
“These important findings show the significance of partnerships between the arts and education sectors, where artists and teachers work together to develop students’ expertise in and through the arts.”
Academic outcomes included motivation, homework completion, class participation, enjoyment of school, and educational aspirations, while personal wellbeing measures considered such factors as self-esteem, life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose.
Some of the strongest effects were found for students who spent high amounts of quality time in creative and performing arts subjects at school. Positive effects also resulted from home influences, such as how often parents and their children talked about and participated in the arts.
Active participation, more than simply being an observer or audience member, also yielded stronger positive effects on school and personal wellbeing outcomes in the study.
Lead author, Professor Andrew Martin said the study showed that school participation in the arts could have positive effects on diverse aspects of students’ lives.
“Whereas most previous research has been small-scale or focused on students’ enjoyment in specific arts subjects, such as music, dance, drama, and visual arts, our research was large-scale and assessed outcomes beyond the arts domain,” he said.
“It shows that the arts can impact broader academic and personal wellbeing outcomes for young people.”
Co-author Associate Professor Michael Anderson said that at a time when different subject areas competed for space in the school curriculum, the findings emphasised the importance of the arts.
“This study provides new and compelling evidence that the arts should be central to schooling and not left on the fringes,” he said.
A copy of the research is available at this PS News link.
Edition 382, 8 October 2013