Among the many health benefits for students and children who are exposed to and experience the arts in their lives and school curriculum are higher grades, better test scores, less absenteeism (which leads to less hunger), less disciplinary infractions, improved social and emotional skills, and improved motor skills.
Arts in General Curriculum
Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston’s Arts Access Initiative
Dr. Daniel Bowen from Texas A&M University and Dr. Brian Kisida from the University of Missouri in 2019 released the results of a study focused on how the inclusion of the arts in students’ curriculum impacted them. They found that increasing students’ arts educational experiences reduces the proportion of students receiving disciplinary infractions by 3.6%, increases writing achievement by 0.13 of a standard deviation and bolsters students’ compassion for others by 0.08 of a standard deviation. In addition, these students exhibited more pronounced effects on writing achievement and compassion for others; and demonstrated positive treatment effects on school engagement, college aspirations, arts-facilitated empathy, and perceived value of the arts.
The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students
Dr. Daniel Brown from Texas A&M University and Dr. Brian Kisida from the University of Missouri completed a study in 2019 that found when students are enrolled in art courses, their attendance modestly improves by 0.2 percent. This effect translates into nine additional days of instruction for a class of 25 students. Students who have been chronically absent experience the greatest impacts, attending 1.1 more days per year when enrolled in art courses.
Using Multi-Genre Arts Programming to Support Creative Engagement and Social and Emotional Learning in Middle-School Students with Autism
In 2019, researchers from Ivymount School had hypothesized that a multi-genre arts program would not only provide an opportunity for students with autism to experiment with a wide range of artistic genres – including drama, music, puppetry, visual arts and movement – but also to develop social and emotional skills in the context of a safe and highly-motivating learning environment. They found through their works that participation in the ArtAbility program increased creative engagement; and improved social and emotional skills, including self-advocacy, social interactions, friendships, emotion regulation, flexibility, showing support for others and self-confidence.
Frequent Sports Dance May Serve as a Protective Factor for Depression Among College Students
In 2022, researchers in China conducted a study to investigate the role of frequent sprots dance in preventing mental disorders, including anxiety and depression, among college students. Their results showed that the dance students had significantly lower depression scores.
A Dance Movement Psychotherapy Intervention for the Wellbeing of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
Researchers in 2021 examined the effectiveness of treating children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder with a Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) program. The study showed promising results on the social and emotional wellbeing of these children.
Effects of Creative Dance-Based Exercise on Gait Performance in Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy
Researchers from Korea in 2020 conducted a study to explore creative dance-based (CD) exercise as a rehabilitation intervention for adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP). They found that the participants who received dance exercises had significantly improved body cathexis scale scores. They concluded that CD-based exercise can improve motor function, gait performance and body image in adolescents with CP.
Adapted Dance Improves Motor Abilities and Participation in Children with Down Syndrome
Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center conducted a pilot study in 2019 that measured the effects of an adopted dance program on motor abilities and participation in children with Down syndrome (DS). Significant improvements were noted in Gross Motor Function Measure. Caregivers also reported improved scores on the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure, as well as physical, cognitive and emotional improvements. This study supports the use of an adapted dance program to improve motor abilities and participation in children with DS.
Effect of Dance on Lower-Limb of Motion in Young People with Cerebral Palsy
In 2019, Brazilian researchers conducted a trial to investigate the effect of dance on the range of motion (ROM) of lower limbs in young people with cerebral palsy (CP). The results showed improvements in all lower limb joints and axis of movements.
The Benefits of Music Workshop Participation for Pupils’ Wellbeing and Social Capital
In 2021, Dr. Sophie Ward from Durham University in the United Kingdom, concluded from her study that students who participated in a music program as part of their school curriculum experienced cognitive and social benefit, including higher levels of social capital, self-efficacy and a sense of connection to school and community.
Efficacy of Emotion-Regulating Improvisational Music Therapy to Reduce Depressive Symptoms in Young Adult Students
A study was conducted in 2020 to look at the impact of Emotion-regulating Improvisational Music Therapy (EIMT) to prevent depression in young adult students. The students receiving the EIMT reported significant improvement in emotion regulation and significant reduction of depressive symptoms.
Effect of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Music Therapy in Reducing Physics Test Anxiety Among Students as Measured by Generalized Test Anxiety Scale
A group of Nigerian researchers conducted a study in 2020 that determined the effect of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with music in reducing physics test anxiety among secondary school students as measured by generalized test anxiety scale. The participants who were exposed to CBT-music intervention had lower test anxiety scores post-treatment than the participants in the control group. Furthermore, the test anxiety scores of the participants in the CBT-music group were significantly lower than those in the control group at the follow-up measure. They concluded that CBT-music program has a significant benefit in improving the management of physics test anxiety among secondary school students.
The Therapeutic Relationship as Predictor of Change in Music Therapy with Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
In 2019, researchers from Norway and Germany conducted a study to examine whether the therapeutic relationship in music therapy with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder predicts generalized changes in social skills. They found the music therapy to be an important predictor of the development of social skills, as well as communication and language specifically.
The Influence of Tempo Rhythmic Organization of Speech During Gaming and Theatrical Activities on Correction of Stammering in Children
Ukrainian researchers in 2019 conducted a study to determine whether theatrical activities help stammering corrections in senior preschoolers. The results showed that there is a positive dynamic in overcoming stammering in the experimental group (EG) and, in contrast to the control group, the EG children significantly improved their ability to overcome fears, control themselves while speaking, establish contacts and communicate by verbal means with peers and adults.
Developing Creativity and Other 21st Century Skills Through Theater Classes
Researchers at George Mason University completed in 2022 a study that analyzed 6 years of mixed-methods data from a theater conservatory for students aged 5-18 to determine how it impacted generalizable habits such as creativity, empathy and/or communication. Their findings suggest that participation in theater arts classes promote positive youth development and generalizable habits.
“It Just Made Me Want to Do Better for Myself”: Performing Arts Education and Academic Performance for African American Male High School Students
Dr. Calvin Walton from Georgia Southern University found in 2020 that students whose curriculums included performing arts education experienced a positive school climate, increased academic achievement and for African American males, arts-based performance contributed to a positive racial identity.
The Socio-Emotional World of Adolescents with Intellectual Disability: A Drama Therapy-Based Participatory Action Research
Researchers in Haifa, Israel used drama therapy to determine whether adolescents with intellectual disabilities could benefit. In their 2020 work, they found that after the workshops, these adolescents learned to express themselves through dramatic means, such as puppetry and roleplaying, and were able to perform before an audience.
The Use of Improvisational Theater Training to Reduce Social Anxiety in Adolescents
Dr. Peter Felsman, and others from the University of Michigan conducted a study in 2019 to examine whether participating in a school-based improvisational theater program results in reductions in symptoms of social anxiety. Adolescents who screened positive for social phobia at the beginning of class reported reduced symptoms of social anxiety at post-test. This change predicts increases in social skills, hope, creative self-efficacy, comfort performing for others and willingness to make mistakes, along with marginal decreases in symptoms of depression.
Drama Therapy Counseling as Mental Health Care of College Students
Researchers from several universities in Taiwan conducted a study in 2019 whose results revealed that drama therapy (i.e., theatre games, role-playing, storytelling or creative and expressive artistic activities) could deliver significantly positive effects for and improve six mental health indicators (self-awareness, self-expression, interpersonal and communication skills, self-cognitive reconstruction ability, social role ability, and decision-making ability) of the participants.
Online Art Therapy in Elementary Schools During COVID-19: Results from a Randomized Cluster Pilot and Feasibility Study
In 2021, researchers conducted a pilot study to compare the impact of emotion-based directed drawing intervention and a mandala drawing intervention on mental health in elementary school children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants in the drawing group showed lower inattention scores after the trial.
The Effect of Interactive Games Compared to Painting on Preoperative Anxiety in Iranian Children
Researchers in 2020 conducted a study comparing three methods of treating anxiety in children having surgery. Their results found that painting alleviated their anxiety.
Art Therapy with Grieving Children: Effect on Affect in the Dual-Process Model
In 2020, a study was conducted to evaluate changes in positive and negative affect of 13 grieving children after six sessions of art therapy. The results showed that art therapy can assist the bereaved because of its ability to promote exploration and expression of feelings that occurs in the grieving process.
The Effectiveness of Mandala Colouring Therapy in Increasing Year 3 Pupils’ Focus During the Initial Lesson
Researchers in Malaysia conducted a study in 2020 to identify the effectiveness of the Mandala Colouring Therapy in increasing Year 3 pupils’ focus during the initial lesson of the day. The overall findings revealed that pupils’ interest and focus increased with this therapy. Teachers also admitted that this method enabled the low average pupils to answer questions correctly, complete the tasks and change their behaviours.
School Bullying Among Left-Behind Children: The Efficacy of Art Therapy on Reducing Bullying Victimization
Chinese researchers examined in 2019 the effectiveness of art therapy intervention for reducing bullying victimization among left-behind children (LBC). They found that art therapy can effectively help LBC in rural primary schools reduce their vulnerability to bullying.