New research on benefits of arts education

The Australia Council for the Arts joined with University of Sydney to undertake a longitudinal study on the impact of school, home and community-based arts participation. The study, available through the Journal of Education Psychology, found students who are involved in the arts have higher school motivation, engagement in class, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

Students who participate in dance, drama, music, and visual arts showed more positive academic and personal wellbeing outcomes than students who were not as involved in the arts.

Academic outcomes included motivation, homework completion, class participation, enjoyment of school, and educational aspirations, while personal wellbeing measures considered such factors as self-esteem, life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose.

Active participation, more than simply being an observer or audience member, also yielded stronger positive effects on school and personal wellbeing outcomes in the study.

The study, in examining in-school and out-of-school arts engagement noted essential elements (such as engagement and active participation) must be present in out-of-school activities to ensure a quality and beneficial experience, rather than the participation being just a time commitment.

The co-authors of the study commented on the clear outcome of the reserach for greater intergration of arts into the school environment. Associate Professor Michael Anderson

This study provides new and compelling evidence that the arts should be central to schooling and not left on the fringes

Dr David Sudmalis, Australia Council Acting Director Community Partnerships

Not only does this study demonstrate that the arts help deliver positive outcomes in engagement and motivation for students outside of the arts domain, it also shows that high quality, participatory arts education has the greatest impact. These important findings show the significance of partnerships between the arts and education sectors, where artists and teachers work together to develop students’ expertise in and through the arts.