highlights from key national research on arts education

Visual Arts

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Being taught to "read" art through a "visual thinking curriculum" helped 9- and 10-year-old students develop their reasoning based on visual evidence.  This increased ability translated into better "reading" of evidence in science.

source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Developments, 2002, p. 142
study: Investigating the Educational Impact and Potential of the Museum of Modern Art's Visual Thinking curriculum: Final Report


Assessments of 6th graders' history understanding using drawing as well a writing helped students veal more of what they knew than using just writing.  This held true for both English language proficient and English limited students.

source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, p. 141
study: The Arts, Language and Knowing:  An Experimental Study of the Potential of the Visual Arts for Assessing Academic Learning by Language Minority Students


Seventh grade boys who were "reluctant readers" but were interested in visual art were given several visual art exercises that resulted in them taking a more active role in reading and interpreting the text rather than just passively reading it. The students were asked to, "create cutouts or find objects that would represent characters and ideas in the story they were reading, and then use these to dramatize the story…draw a picture of strong visual impressions formed while reading a story…illustrate books…(and) depict visually the key details of nonfiction texts."

source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, 2002, p. 144
study: Reading is Seeing: using Visual Response to Improve the Literary Reading of Reluctant Readers