Cognitive Transfer From Arts Education to Nonarts Outcomes: Research Evidence and Policy Implications

Authored by: Lois Hetland , Ellen Winner

Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education

Print publication date:  February  2004
Online publication date:  April  2004

Print ISBN: 9780805849714
eBook ISBN: 9781410609939
Adobe ISBN: 9781135612313


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This chapter reports methods, findings, and implications for research and policy from 10 meta-analytic reviews of the effects on nonarts cognition from instruction in various art forms. Three analyses demonstrate generalizable, causal relationships: classroom drama and verbal achievement, music listening and spatial reasoning, and music learning and spatial reasoning. Five do not allow causal conclusions: multiarts and academic achievement, arts-rich instruction and creativity, visual arts and reading, dance and reading, music and reading. Findings for two analyses are equivocal: dance and spatial reasoning and music and mathematics. The authors urge arts education researchers to keep research syntheses in mind when conducting studies and advise policymakers to support arts programs that demonstrate learning in the arts.

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