Out-of-School - High School

List of Studies

Academic Outcomes

  • Literacy and Language Development. Out-of-school arts learning in music, drama, media arts, and spoken word relates to high achievement in reading and writing and high verbal SAT scores for high school students. In one study, students in a spoken word program began to see themselves as writers, thus developing literate identities (Weinstein, 2010). In another study, researchers found that music training related to stronger performance in learning a second language with greater improvement in expressive fluency and competency (Pettitto, 2008).
  • Mathematics Achievement. Current research finds a positive relationship between out-of-school music training and academic success in mathematics. In one study, for instance, students who consistently studied instrumental music throughout high school had significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade twelve (Catterall, Chapleau, & Iwanaga, 1999).
  • Underserved Students. Studies point to a positive relationship between out-of-school arts learning and academic success for high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Cognitive Outcomes

  • Creative Thinking. Participation in out-of-school arts contributes to the development of high school students? imagination and creative thinking skills, including adaptability, flexibility, originality, and abstractness. One study, for example, found a significant relationship between participation in voluntary out-of-school arts programming and high measures of creativity (Heath & Roach, 1999).
  • Problem Solving and Reasoning. Research from a large-scale study provides evidence that high school students who participate in out-of-school arts programming demonstrate more sophisticated use of language indicating complex thinking processes including syntactic complexity, hypothetical reasoning, and questioning approaches (Heath & Roach, 1999). In other research, dancers tested better on memory and motion processing than non-dancers, while musicians demonstrated better auditory-visual discrimination and aural recognition than non-musicians (Petitto, 2008).

Personal Outcomes

  • Emotional Development. Research finds that the arts contribute to students? emotional development by helping them to understand their emotions, express them in a healthy way, and self-regulate them. Two studies find, for instance, that dance enables high-school-aged youth to express emotions in a non-verbal way that is safe and articulate (Ross, 2000; Stevenson, 2011). Additional studies find that out-of-school arts learning contributes to a deeper understanding of and greater capacity for empathy.
  • Engagement and Persistence. A growing body of research finds that participating in the arts has a strong relationship to deep engagement in learning. The arts create an environment in which students connect learning to their personal and cultural life. The opportunity to make choices and explore personal interests also contributes to greater engagement through the arts.
  • Motivation. Research shows that students are motivated by arts learning and find joy in it. Studies associate increased motivation specifically with participation in music and dramatic arts. One study explains, for instance, how students are motivated to attain artistic competence, which encourages further motivation for higher achievement (Rostan, 2010).
  • Self-Awareness, Self-Concept, and Self-Expression. The arts provide an environment with in which students can explore, create, and express their identity. One study found, for example, that a drama program helped LGBTQ youth explore self-concept issues to form a viable social identity (Halverson, 2005). Another study, describes how young people engage with the media of dance and writing to create a space in which they can explore, develop, and express their sense of self (Stevenson, 2011). Several studies describe how dance increases self-awareness and control of the body as an expressive tool.
  • Self-Efficacy and Self-Confidence. Research finds that participation in out-of-school arts learning contributes to high school students? self-efficacy and self-confidence. Studies find, in particular, that through the arts students become more visible to adults, peers, and community members, and that this outside recognition contributes to the development of increased responsibility and leadership skills. Several studies also relate participation in the arts to positive self-esteem, citing students? feelings of fulfillment, enjoyment, and confidence. In one study, music instruction enhanced self-confidence and self-efficacy for disadvantaged and delinquent teens (Kennedy, 1998).

Social and Civic Outcomes

  • Collaboration and Communication. Research finds that working collaboratively with peers and adults in the arts provides many opportunities for students to practice effective communication. In multiple studies, students developed group awareness with a culture of mutual respect and unification and learned how to express individuality appropriately within the group. Students in these studies practice communicating effectively by articulating their process, intentions, and decisions as well as practicing techniques in constructive criticism and active listening skills.
  • Community-Building. Research finds that out-of-school arts programs build community among participants. One study found for instance, that a community performing arts program fostered a sense of community and group identity among participants that was family-like, supporting participants? individual artistic, personal, and social development, as well as ensemble-like, enabling them to collaboratively create an original work of art and to act collectively to create social change (Stevenson, 2011). Studies focusing on different art forms, find that such arts-based communities provide a safe space for students to take risks, explore ideas, make mistakes, express individuality, create art, and support others in a positive way. Within this safe space, studies find further, students build trust with their peers, mentors, teachers, and artists.
  • Community and Civic Engagement. High school students participating in out-of-school arts programs engage with community and social issues that are important to them. In a large-scale study, out-of-school arts programming helped to prepare youth to apply their skills directly to employment opportunities in their communities (Heath & Roach, 1999). A high percentage of youth who participate in the arts, this study also found, stay in their local community as adults and contribute to its economic and civic growth. Other studies find that students who participate in arts education as youth are much more likely to continue or return to participating in them as adults either engaging in the art form directly, or patronizing the arts (Pitts, 2008; Rabkin & Hedberg, 2011), and that that participation in the arts in the teen years relates to greater community involvement, volunteerism, and political participation in adulthood (Catterall, Chapleau, & Iwanaga, 2009; Heath & Roach, 1999).
  • Cross-Cultural Understanding. Studies demonstrate that arts education contributes significant strategies for fostering cross-cultural learning. Students who learn about the cultural connections and interpretations of the arts are provided a context within which they are able to explore and negotiate their own and others? cultural values.
  • Leadership. Several studies described how the arts provide high school students with opportunities to develop leadership skills. Students who participate in arts programs, particularly out-of-school arts programs, demonstrate responsibility in regard to their commitment, leadership, and initiative as part of an arts community. In one example, the study of a spoken word program describes the commitment required to engage in the personal exploration, revision, and feedback process of art-making as well as the leadership required to plan events and performances and attend rehearsals (Weinstein, 2010). In another study, high school students became leaders in their community as they led a community mural project (Kang Song & Gammel, 2011). In a study of a photography program, at-risk students were empowered to be involved in creating social change in their community after they were recognized as experts in their culture (Goessling & Doyle, 2009).
  • Mentorship. Research highlights the positive benefit that arts learning mentorship programs have on students. Mentoring relationships allow students to engage in critical dialogue with professionals where they have the opportunity to work alongside adults and learn skills in decision-making, strategy building, and multiple ways of doing and being. Students also develop a group awareness of how their collective abilities and talents can add to the larger community. In one study, for example, a long standing out-of-school dance program showed how skills, traditions, discipline, and history is passed down from skilled practitioners to the next generation while allowing for innovation within the artistic field (Peters, 2010).