Out-of-School - Middle School

List of Studies

Academic Outcomes

  • Literacy and Language Development. Studies find that out-of-school arts education in visual arts, music, and drama at the middle school level is positively associated with literacy and language development, especially related to English language arts, writing, reading proficiency, spelling, and vocabulary. One study found, for example, that even when accounting for students? socio-economic status, out-of-school music participation predicted adolescents? reading achievement (Southgate & Roscigno, 2009).
  • Mathematics Achievement. Research suggests that out-of-school arts education is positively related to learning in mathematics for middle school students. One study finds, for example, that visual arts education correlates with better mathematic calculation abilities (Wandell et al., 2008). Another finds that music training improves mathematics performance (Vaughn, 2000).
  • Overall Academic Achievement. Research finds a significant positive relationship between out-of-school arts study and middle school students? overall academic achievement, including higher grades. One study found, for example, that 57 percent of students participating in an after-school arts program, which included dance, theater, music, and visual arts, increased their GPA (grade point average) by at least .5 points, whereas only 11% of students in a comparison group increased their GPAs by the same amount (Respress & Lufti, 2006).

Cognitive Outcomes

  • Problem Solving and Reasoning. Studies find that music and visual arts are associated with the development of abstract reasoning and problem solving skills for middle school students. One study, for example, found that listening to music enhanced students? ability to visualize and mentally manipulate patterns, a skill necessary for solving multi-step problems (Hetland, 2000). Another study found that students involved in an arts-based community service project developed an understanding of their own ability to contribute creative solutions to problems in their community (Krensky, 2001).

Personal Outcomes

  • Positive Behavior. Studies suggest that out-of-school arts education at the middle school level positively affects students? behavior. For example, after participating in a visual and theater arts program, students had fewer behavioral and emotional problems than students in a comparison group (Wright et al., 2006). In another study, at-risk students who participated in an after-school arts program were less likely to engage in risky, delinquent, and/or violent behavior as measured by a Violence Risk Assessment (Respress & Lufti, 2006).
  • Self-Efficacy and Self-Confidence. Out-of-school arts study during the middle school years develops in students a sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy. For example, participants in an after-school media arts and technology program felt more confident in their ability to use arts and technology tools to design and build something new, and to share their ideas in a group setting (Betts, 2006).

Social and Civic Outcomes

  • Community and Civic Engagement. Studies find that students who participate in arts education develop habits and competencies of active, independent citizens. One study, for example, found that middle school students who participated in an arts-integrated community service project developed a greater understanding of the issues in their community and their power to contribute to creative solutions as artist, designers, and architects (Krensky, 2001). In another study, students who participated in a drama program aimed at moral development became interested in global issues and participated in activities that addressed social issues that they identified as important in their lives and the world around them (Gervais, 2006).