How Arts Education Can Improve Student Writing
A recent study released by the Houston Education Research Consortium, focused on arts education in 42 elementary and middle schools in the Houston area. It was the first ever, large-scale, randomized controlled trial study of Houston's efforts to encourage arts education through investments and community partnerships.
The results showed that arts education increased compassion for others, reduced disciplinary infractions, and improved writing achievements. Arts education also leads to more engagement in school and more aspiration to attend college.
When looking at benefits of art education facts, studies show that giving students the advantages arts education offers a number of important benefits, academically, emotionally and socially.
Randomized controlled trial
The researchers doing the study worked with districts to randomly assign schools to participate, with over 10,000 students taking part. The schools were encouraged to provide exposure to various art forms, such as dance, music, theater and visual arts.
This came in the form of programs outside of school hours, on-campus performances, artists in residence and field trips. The schools offered nearly eight school community arts partnerships in comparison with the three offered by schools that did not participate in the arts initiative.
A puppet show held at Codwell Elementary was one example of art education benefits in practice. Some first-graders were given a musical puppet show that featured fish puppets. The underlying message was about bullying.
By the end of the show, the kids were able to answer why bullying was bad and why they shouldn't act this way. It appears that students who receive more arts education experiences of this nature are more aware of how other people feel and are more likely to step in and help others who are treated badly.
What the research showed
When comparing the two groups of schools, the researchers looked at academics as well as answers given in surveys. They had access to various records, such as attendance and disciplinary records as well as test score achievements.
The original survey data from all of the schools enabled the researchers to obtain information related to social and emotional outcomes. They concluded that arts education has a benefit to students in terms of academic, emotional and social outcomes.
One of the findings was that arts had a positive impact on writing test scores. Many students have challenges and a write an essay for me request can help. The fact that art education can improve writing is a significant finding. It could be thesis, dissertation or term work as well.
Interestingly, other recent studies on field trips to museums and the theatre have found that students developed more interest in the arts, political tolerance, and even, in one case, improved reading and math test scores.
As children from low income groups are less likely to be able to access art galleries and the theater, schools become critical providers of cultural experiences and all the benefits that come with them.
The researchers could have discovered that math scores went down because the kids were doing all these art activities but this wasn't the case. Academic performance does not seem to be affected when children have an art education.
Children under pressure academically can ask someone to "do my assignment" and enjoy art to have a more balanced approach. The role of art in education, according to the Houston study, seems to make school work more enjoyable, make students think about things in new ways and generally make them more interested in school.
Why is less time spent on art education?
A federal government report found that schools needing improvement and with more minority students are more likely to spend less time on arts education. One of the challenges for those who support arts education is a lack of research to support its educational value.
However, national surveys show that the public agrees that the arts are necessary for a balanced education. Fears have been voiced that pressure to raise scores on tests has squeezed arts into a less important place in the curriculums of many schools.
Other collective arts education initiatives
Collective efforts similar to the arts education initiative in Houston are being explored elsewhere too. Boston as an Arts Expansion Initiative and Chicago has a Creative Schools Initiative to supplement arts education opportunities by forming school-community partnerships.
The results of the study released by the Houston Education Research Consortium are important because districts are facing the decision of how much to prioritize arts education and cities are assessing and expanding their arts initiatives.
They need to have the type of empirical evidence such as comes from large-scale studies like this one to help guide their decisions. There are many reasons to believe that engagement in arts education has great benefits and future efforts need to expand on ways of measuring and assessing the benefits of arts education in schools.
Robert Everett is an academic writer, tech blogger and a part-time student counselor. Multitasking comes naturally to him as he was in a corporate job before entering freelancing and worked on several m-learning platforms after work hours. When he's not at work, he like to unwind by practicing yoga, trying vegan recipes and reading spirituality books. He can be contacted via Twitter.