Students - Postsecondary

List of Studies

Academic Outcomes

  • Overall Academic Achievement. Preliminary studies find a positive relationship between arts education and academic achievement among postsecondary students. A study of undergraduate students, for example, detected small positive associations between music study and scores on intelligence (IQ) tests. The more that individuals participated in music lessons, the higher their scores were on the intelligence tests and the higher their academic achievement (Schellenberg, 2006). A neuroscience study found that musicians who had intensive arts education exhibited significant advantages in second language acquisition in comparison to other peers in a university language course, specifically in expressive fluency and competency (Petitto, 2008).

Cognitive Outcomes

  • Creative Thinking. Research conducted at the postsecondary level finds connections between study in the arts and the development of creative thinking. A neurocognitive study, for example, found that performing arts majors demonstrate more divergent thinking (generating more unusual or atypical uses for objects) than non-performing arts majors (Dunbar, 2008). Another study found that postgraduate university students’ participating in a drama course showed greater increases in the fluency and flexibility of their thinking than a comparison group that did not participate in the drama course (Karakelle, 2009). The study found drama provided a context that stimulated the creative potential of participants, increasing their tolerance of uncertainty, provoking their curiosity, and facilitating creative risk-taking.

Personal Outcomes

  • Self-Awareness, Self-Concept, and Self-Expression. Research connects arts learning with increased self-understanding and confidence at the postsecondary level. Among prospective teachers who are enrolled in postsecondary education, for example, research connects their arts learning with increased confidence, competence, and confirmation of their career choices (Russell-Bowie, 2009). In one study, college students who participated in hands-on, arts-based, community practica developed new insights into diverse populations, gaining satisfaction and new skills and confidence that enriched their perceptions of their teaching capabilities (Bachar & Ofri, 2009). Another study found that early childhood pre-service students’ practicum experiences in an arts-based partnership led to their development of a deeper understanding of the arts and improved their confidence in teaching (Meiners, 2005).

Social and Civic Outcomes

  • Social Development. Preliminary research suggests that arts experiences can develop skills that students can use in becoming more actively involved in their communities. One study found the combination of dance and participatory research in a social/therapeutic context with incarcerated youth, advanced college students’ understanding of dance as a social intervention, and developed their capacities for observation of and reflection on social life (Ross, 1996).