Out-of-School - Elementary School

List of Studies

Academic Outcomes

  • Literacy and Language Development. Research suggests a positive relationship between visual arts, music, and dance education in out-of-school settings and literacy and language development at the elementary level. One study finds, for instance, that the amount of music instruction a student receives is related to improvements in their reading fluency, while visual arts participation is related to reading readiness in younger grades (Wandell et al., 2008).
  • Mathematics Achievement. Research finds that out-of-school arts participation in music and visual arts is associated with elementary students? achievement in mathematics. One study finds, for example, that visual arts education correlates with better mathematic calculation abilities (Wandell et al., 2008), and another finds that music training is related to improved mathematics performance (Vaughn, 2000).
  • Overall Academic Achievement. Elementary students who participate in out-of-school arts education exhibit higher academic achievement as measured by grades and gains in intelligence (IQ). One study finds, for example, that music education is a significant predictor of overall student achievement, even when factors known to affect achievement such as parental income are considered (Wetter et al., 2009). In another study, students participating in drama and music instruction experienced significant increases in IQ from pre- to post-test (Schellenberg, 2004).

Cognitive Outcomes

  • Creative Thinking. Research suggests that participation in out-of-school arts programs develops and encourages elementary students? creative thinking as measured by creativity assessments. One study in particular, found that after participating in a drama program students were more fluent in their creative responses?meaning they used artistic ideas and principles to solve problems and create stories (Hui & Lau, 2006).
  • Problem Solving and Reasoning. Research identifies a positive relationship between arts education and arts integration and the development of abstract reasoning and problem solving skills. In one study, for example, more years of music training predicted higher nonverbal reasoning?a problem-solving skill necessary for students to use logic to form judgments (Costa-Giomi, 1999). Another study found that students who participated longer in an after-school drawing program were more efficient in their ability to identify problems and adapt to new solutions as they presented themselves (Rostan, 2010).

Personal Outcomes

  • Engagement and Persistence. Studies find that experiences in both the visual and performing arts help students develop concentration, focus, commitment to follow through with tasks, and interest in their own learning. For example, one study found that students participating in dance education exhibited commitment, self-control, and determination (Bond & Stinson, 2007).
  • Self-Efficacy and Self-Confidence. Elementary students who participate in out-of-school music and dance programs develop a belief in their own abilities to accomplish goals. In one study, for example, students showed increased self-confidence and sense of self-worth after participating in music performance training (Luftig, 2000).
  • Motivation. Research finds that elementary students are more motivated to learn when they are participating in dance and visual arts learning experiences. For example, a study of an after-school visual arts program found that as students sought and acquired visual arts skills, they developed enjoyment in thinking, which became a motivating factor for further skill acquisition (Rostan, 2010).

Social and Civic Outcomes

  • Positive Behavior. Out-of-school arts education is associated with a decrease in behavioral and emotional problems for elementary students. For example, students participating in a community-based drama and visual arts program had fewer behavioral and emotional problems over time than a matched control group (Wright et al., 2006). Music participation was also found to be an effective motivator for increasing desirable and decreasing undesirable behaviors in students (Standley, 1996).