Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trip to an art museum leads to significantly stronger critical thinking skills


“Learning to Think Critically: A Visual Art Experiment,” by Daniel H. Bowen, Jay P. Greene, and Brian Kisida, published in the January/February 2014 issue of Educational Researcher (ER), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)finds that exposure to the arts improves students’ critical thinking skills.

Students randomly selected to participate in a half-day school trip to an art museum were found to have significantly stronger critical thinking skills than their non-participating peers in analyzing a new painting, even weeks after the museum tours. Importantly, the benefits were larger for students from schools with large low-income populations, for non-white students, for rural students, and for younger students – groups generally less likely to make museum visits outside of school hours, for instance, with their parents.

The researchers conclude by noting that disadvantaged students, who have the most to gain from arts exposure, have been disproportionally affected by cuts in arts education.

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