Chapter 1 - Elementary art education programs fight a constant ---

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Chapter 1 - Elementary art education programs fight a constant ---

    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning

Elementary Art Education and

    It’s Affects on Learning

    Chapter 1

    Kristy Bauman

    Introduction to Educational Research

    Northwestern Oklahoma State University

    Edited By: Jeannie Albright


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning


    Elementary art education programs in America fight a constant battle to stay alive. Even with the recent surge of federal concern for getting the Arts back into schools (Eisner, 2002), budget cuts target classes deemed as elective or non-essential. Although art education is considered a core subject in United States schools (Eisner, 2002), it is often thought of as “nice but not necessary” (Eisner, 2002, p.xi) by administration and others in charge (Eisner, 2002). Because of this overall feeling of ambiguity (Eisner, 2002), art must prove itself to be just as important as other core classes such as math, science, and reading.

    Although art is an important subject on its own, the current trend to keep the Arts in schools is to connect them with other more important subjects (Jensen, 2001). Recent research shows some correlation between visual arts and reading (Burger & Winner, 2000; Wilhelm, 1995) and looking and reasoning skills (MacGilvray, Palmer, & Tishman, 1999) as well as the positive affects of combining artwork along with written answers as a form of testing student’s knowledge (De Jamette, 1997). Catterall, Chapleau and

    Iwanaga (1999) found that students involved in programs with musical instruments had a higher chance of developing better math skills.

    Many teachers have taken on the task of introducing non-conventional types of artistic projects to their classes in the hope of sparking some interest in their students. Among these new ideas are sketchbooks and art journals (ArtsEdNet, 2004) which help students improve their communication and thinking skills. My goal for this project is to identify and examine how elementary art education affects the way students learn and approach other areas of study.


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning

    Statement of the Problem & Rationale

    This study was conducted to discover what affects elementary art education has on students’ learning in other core areas of study. My research interest is in the overall affect on students who attend schools in which art programs have been cut, compared to students who are actively involved in art education throughout their elementary years. This topic interests me because I believe that my early introduction to the arts played a large part in my education during later years. I use the skills I gained during those first years every day in my career as a graphic designer.

    Review of Related literature

    Art education today is taught primarily with hands-on activities and visual aids rather than text books. Teachers are using art to implement their other core areas of study such as reading and science. One popular tool that teachers are implementing is the sketchbook (ArtEdNet, 2004).

    Art is considered a core subject, but its value is often overlooked or grouped with other subjects such as reading. Jenson (2001) states that art is a stand alone subject that should not be attached to another subject in order to gain importance, although art often must prove itself in this way. Students who are actively involved in arts programs are shown to express less boredom in school and watch fewer hours of television as well as produce higher grades in school (Catterall, 1998). Jenson (2001) warns against making casual connections between the arts and other areas, arguing that researchers should “be cautious in claims about how they affect test scores” (Jenson, 2001 p. 1).


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning

    The US government is in support of the arts because of the value they have on the future workforce. The NGA Center for Best Practices (2002) claims that arts education will better prepare our future workforce with higher level decision making, problem solving, creative, and innovative learning skills. In turn these skills will produce dependable, positive thinking, self-disciplined workers with interpersonal social skills, flexibility and integrity.

    The arts may be important for everyone, but some studies are focusing on particular groups in the hopes of furthering art education in areas where it would otherwise be cut. At risk youth are a target population for many arts related studies and programs (NGA, 2002; Baum & Owen, 1997). The programs aim to help at risk students gain skills that will help them become “economically self sufficient” (NGA, 2002) adults.

    Involvement in the arts is a benefit to students in many ways. Eisner (2002) makes a strong argument for more arts education by pointing out that participation in the arts helps students develop strong agile minds. Research has given us a glimpse of what positive affects participation in the arts can do for students learning abilities, social skills, and self-esteem (Catterall, Chapleau, & Iwanaga, 1999; Catterall, 1998; De Jamette, 1997; Ables, Burton & Horowitz, 2001; Wilhelm, 1995; Baum & Owen, 1997). Given this research the government is rallying with several arts related organizations to bring the arts into schools and communities in order to enhance their future workforce (NGA, 2002).


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning

    Statement of Hypotheses

    1. Elementary art education should be considered a beneficial subjects in today’s

    elementary school curriculum. The time that art fills in a student’s day may make the

    difference between high achievement and becoming a high- risk student. 2. Students who are actively involved in art projects and programs build strong creative and social skills, which gives them a distinct advantage over students who are not involved in such programs. These skills help student’s learning in other core areas of study and in development of their social relationships.

    Definition of Terms

    For the purposes of this study I have defined the following terms: Art/ the Arts: Any subject of a creative nature: Visual, Music, and Drama

    Elementary Art Education: Teaching art at the elementary school (K-6) level.

    Learning: A student’s study, understanding, and skill of introduced topics.

    Core Areas of Study: The basic subjects students are taught at the elementary school

     (K-6) level: Math, Science, Reading, Language Arts, History, and Social Studies.


    Art Education today is being put under scrutiny to prove itself a valuable member of school curriculum. Although some argue against the reliability of such findings, researchers have positive results to suggest that involvement in the arts help students not


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning

    only on a creative level, but also with skills they can use in other areas such as listening, observation, problem solving, and decision making.

    After reviewing the literature, and learning how teachers are using art projects in the classroom today, I believe that art education should be made an integral part of elementary school programs. The benefits it offers students are in the form of creative outlets, enhanced learning ability, and highly developed social skills. These are advantages students will keep and implement throughout their lives. My study is aimed at identifying and examining the affects of art education on students learning. The following literature review will further explore what research is finding on this topic.


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning


    Eisner, Elliott W. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind. New Haven & London:

    Yale University Press.

    Abeles, Hal, & Burton, Judith, & Horowitz, Robert (2001). Learning In and Through the

    Arts: Curriculum Implications. In Fiske, Edward B. (eds.), Champions of Change:

    The Impact of the Arts on Learning (pp. 35-46).

    Burger, Kristin, & Winner, Ellen (2000). Instruction in Visual Art: Can It Help Children

    Learn to Read? In Deasy, Richard J. (eds.), Critical Links: Learning In the Arts

    and Student Academic and Social Development (pp. 138-140).

    De Jamette, Karen G. (1997). The Arts, Language, and Knowing: An Experimental Study

    of the Potential of the Visual Arts for Assessing Academic Learning by Language

    Minority Students. In Deasy, Richard J. (eds.), Critical Links: Learning In the

    Arts and Student Academic and Social Development (pp. 141-143).

    Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. (1995). Reading Is Seeing: Using Visual Response to Improve the

    Literacy Reading of Reluctant Readers. In Deasy, Richard J. (eds.), Critical Links:

    Learning In the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development (p. 144).

    Baum, Susan M., & Owen, Steven V. (1997). Using Art Processes to Enhance Academic

    Self Regulation. In Deasy, Richard J. (eds.), Critical Links: Learning In the Arts

    and Student Academic and Social Development (p. 64-65).

Jensen, Eric (2001). Arts with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, Virginia: Assoc. for

    Supervision and Curriculum Development.

    Catterall, James S., & Chapleau, Richard, & Iwanaga, John. (1999). Involvement in the

    Arts and Human Development: Extending an Analysis of General Associations

    and Introducing the Special Cases of Intensive Involvement in Music and in

    Theatre Arts. In Deasy, Richard J. (eds.), Critical Links: Learning In the Arts and

    Student Academic and Social Development (pp. 70-71).

    Catterall, James S., (1998). Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School. In

    Deasy, Richard J. (eds.), Critical Links: Learning In the Arts and Student

    Academic and Social Development (pp. 68-69).

    Alexander, Mark, & Barbara “rboville”, & Cheryl “Ckart”, & Griswold, Charlotte, &

    Knutsen, Nancy, & Laurie, & Poos, Sandy (1996-1997). Sketchbook Ideas for

    Elementary Compiled from ArtsEdNet mailing list.

    Bowen, Betty, & Fields, Linda, & Miller, Sid (2004, March 10-11). Art and LD Students.

    Message posted to


    Elementary Art Education and It’s Affects on Learning

    NGA Center for Best Practices. (2002). The Impact of Arts Education on Workforce

    Preparation (Economic & Technology Policy Studies Issue Brief) Retrieved

    September 8, 2004 from


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