School Day - High School

List of Studies

Academic Outcomes

  • Literacy and Language Development. Arts learning in music, drama, media arts, and spoken word relates to high achievement in reading and writing and high verbal SAT scores. In one study, for example, students in a spoken word program began to see themselves as writers, thus developing literate identities (Weinstein, 2010).
  • Mathematics Achievement. Studies find a relationship between music and high mathematics SAT scores. Dance and media arts learning in high school also relate to high achievement in math. In one study, participation in instrumental music demonstrated a stronger relationship to algebra achievement than studying choral music (Helmrich, 2010). Another study found music training to be related to skills in representation and reasoning in geometry and estimation (Spelke, 2008).
  • Overall Academic Achievement. Research suggests a significant positive relationship between arts study and overall academic achievement as measured by standardized testing and student grades. Specifically, several studies relate high academic achievement and arts integration (Barry, 2010; Catterall & Waldorf, 1999; DeMoss & Morris, 2002; Seaman, 1999; Stevenson & Deasy, 2005). Research shows that students who experience arts integrated curricula meet or significantly exceed state and district standardized test averages, even in schools with high populations of at-risk students. In addition, a notable study finds that arts integration programs do not lower test scores, suggesting there is no negative impact on academic achievement in core subjects from an arts-integrated curriculum (Seaman, 1999).
  • Underserved Populations. There is a strong body of research that demonstrates ways in which the arts contribute to academic success for high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds, English language learners, and students with special needs. Oftentimes these students do not have as much access to arts programming, and yet, research shows these populations demonstrate the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement when participating in the arts. In one study, students from minority and low socio-economic backgrounds met or exceeded state testing averages when involved in arts integrated programming (Catterall, 2009). Other research provides evidence pointing to a relationship between arts participation in high school and increased attendance and reduced drop-out rates (Catterall, 1998; Horn, 1992; Heath et al., 1998; Mahoney, & Cairns, 1997; Barry, 2010). Students from low socio-economic backgrounds, who participate in the arts, also have an increased chance of attending college and completing a post-secondary degree. In another study, arts assist special needs students in demonstrating knowledge of academic content (Mason et al., 2008). Additional research shows English language learners are significantly more likely to pursue a college degree if they attend an arts-rich high school (Catterall, 2009).

Cognitive Outcomes

  • Creative Thinking. Research shows that participation in the arts contributes to creative thinking skills including adaptability, flexibility, imagination, originality and abstractness.
  • Critical Thinking. Several studies show how students? critical thinking skills improve from arts learning. In one example, urban youth honed their critical thinking skills through participation in a playwriting program (Horn, 1992). In another example, students in a studio art class were required to demonstrate their process, intentions, and decisions for their own art-making, as well as critically reflect and comment on their own work and that of others (Winner et al., 2006).
  • Problem Solving and Reasoning. Research demonstrates that in-school arts learning relates to reasoning skills?including those necessary for spatial tasks, auditory-visual discrimination, and aural recognition?and skills and capacities required to solve problems. One study, for instance, finds that through visual art studio classes, students develop habits of mind for sustained focus, imagination, close observation, and articulation of their decision-making process (Winner et al., 2006).

Personal Outcomes

  • Emotional Development. As emotive forms, the arts contribute to students? emotional development by helping them to understand their emotions, express them in a healthy way, and self-regulate them. In one study, for example, the process of putting on a theatrical production provided a supportive setting for students to learn about and positively express their emotions including developing a greater capacity for empathy (Larson & Brown, 2007).
  • Engagement and Persistence. 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. Research also shows that high school educators who teach in and through the arts are more engaged and excited about their teaching. One study (Barry, 2010), found that this increased engagement was evidence by teacher?s decreased absenteeism. The arts-based professional development provided in the A+ arts-centered whole school reform model increased teachers? self-efficacy and confidence and led them to be happier in their profession. Research also finds that teachers and artists who engage in cultural partnerships in schools derive happiness and satisfaction when engaging in arts activities with students. In one study, teacher-artist partnerships led to meaningful and reciprocal teaching and learning experiences for both teachers and artists (Cote, 2009). Both felt enriched on multiple levels when encouraging cultural growth and understanding with students.
  • Motivation. Research shows that students are motivated by arts learning and find joy in it. Specifically, one study describes arts integration as creating intrinsic motivation in students to learn for understanding (DeMoss & Morris, 2002). Another study found that increased motivation due to the arts is related to a decrease of disciplinary issues in schools (Barry et al., 1990). Additional studies associate increased motivation specifically with participation in music and dramatic arts.
  • Risk-Taking. At arts rich schools, teachers provide more creative and focused instruction and take risks in their classrooms. In some cases, inspired by in-depth arts-based professional development, teachers pursued their own art and took risks by sharing their work with their class, a move that inspired students to pursue their own art (Barry, 2010; Upitis et al., 1999). In another study (Bellisario & Donovan, 2012), teachers who participated in in-depth immersive arts experiences in professional development took creative risks in making their own artwork. This enabled them to better understand how to push students similarly take risks in their own work.
  • Self-Awareness, Self-Concept, and Self-Expression. The arts provide an environment in which students can explore, create, and express their identity. One study found, for instance, that in visual arts studio classes, students develop habits of mind for personal expression through their chosen medium (Winner et al., 2006). Similarly, other studies describe how dance increases awareness and control of the body as an expressive tool. In addition to providing students opportunities and skills for learning about and expressing themselves, studies find that the presence of the arts in classrooms and in teacher professional development provides similar advantages for educators. Teachers who participate in long-term arts-based professional development and use of the arts discovered qualities and capabilities about themselves which over time led to their ability to make personal connections to prior experiences through art, in some cases to pursue their own art forms and helped them to develop new ways of seeing (Upitis et al., 1999). In another study, through arts-based professional development, high school teachers discovered unknown artistic capacities, developed the ability to see social issues from multiple perspectives, and became inspired to reinvent themselves as teachers (Bellisario & Donovan, 2012).
  • Self-Efficacy and Self-Confidence. Several studies show how participation in arts learning contributes to students? self-efficacy. In addition to self-motivation and deep engagement, students become more visible to adults, peers, and community members, and this outside recognition contributes to the development of increased responsibility and leadership skills. Several studies relate participation in the arts to positive self-esteem, citing students? feelings of fulfillment, enjoyment, and confidence. One study describes the process of writing and performing a theater piece as contributing to similar outcomes (Larson & Brown, 2007).

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. The arts help to foster the creation of healthy, supportive community in both in- and out-of-school settings. In one study, for example, students in a Shakespeare program learned how to collaborate in creative communities and how to connect their self-knowledge to social and intellectual development (Seidel, 1999). Several studies focusing on different art forms describe the importance of cultivating a safe space, which not only creates a productive environment for arts learning, but also contributes to the building of a group. Cultivating a safe space provides an environment for students to take risks, explore ideas, make mistakes, express individuality, and support others in a positive way. Within the safe space, students build trust with their peers, mentors, teachers, and artists. Studies demonstrate working in collaborative arts environments, specifically with the performing arts builds trust between students and teaches them the skills to cultivate trust with others.
  • Community and Civic Engagement. Research shows that participation in the arts as adolescents relates to greater community involvement, volunteerism, and political participation as adults. In addition, 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 (Catterall, 2009; Rabkin & Hedberg, 2011).

Professional Outcomes

  • Increased Instructional Capacity. Studies find that high school teachers at arts-rich schools employ more dynamic approaches in their teaching. In the A+ schools in Oklahoma, for example, teachers? teaching became more creative and focused when implementing arts integrated instruction in an environment that was flexible and supportive of the integration of the arts (Barry, 2010). In another study, through partnership with teaching visual and performing artists in their classroom, high school English language arts teachers enhanced their capacity to engage English language learners and help them to develop literacy skills (Stevenson & Deasy, 2005).
  • Professional Learning. Research finds that long-term, in-depth, arts-based professional development increases high school teachers? skills and knowledge in the arts. In two studies, for example, teachers who experienced this kind of professional development acquired new perspectives on teaching, explored new media, made connections to prior experiences, and increased their willingness to take risks (Bellisario & Donovan, 2012; Upitis et al, 1999). Studies also find that teaching artists who collaborate with teachers to implement arts integrated instruction, experience positive impacts on their own artwork. In one study, their participation in arts integrated instruction not only strengthened their individual studio practice, but also changed their beliefs about the benefits of the arts for students and broadened their perceptions of the issues teachers face in their work (Upitis, 2005).