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The contributions of learning in the arts. Part 1: A review of the literature

Rachel Bolstad


This review of international and New Zealand literature explores the arguments made, and evidence for, the contribution of participation and/or formal learning in arts disciplines to educational, social/cultural and economic outcomes, with a key focus on school-aged learners.

A number of international reviews and meta-analyses have sought to provide a rigorous research base for understanding the contributions of learning in the arts. This review focuses on all the arts disciplines included in the Arts learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (Ministry of Education, 2008), with a particular focus on music education as requested by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. It draws on widely-cited international examples such as the Champions of Change (Fiske, 1999) and Critical Links (Deasy, 2002), and a range of other literature. Search criteria focused mainly on locating research with substantive findings about students’ learning and other outcomes in relation to arts education, but a variety of other literature was also reviewed to provide a contextual picture of the state of arts education research, particularly in New Zealand.

The literature review was followed by a second report that synthesised the findings with a range of relevant New Zealand policy documents to explore how learning in the arts may contribute to New Zealand's future.

Both reports are available in full here: Contributions of learning in the arts to educational, social and economic outcomes (2010)

Review and Synthesis of Arts Education Literature
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Publication type: 
Research report
Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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