The Impact of Arts-Based Innovation Training on the Creative Thinking Skills, Collaborative Behaviors, and Innovation Outcomes of Adolescents and Adults

Kate Haley Goldman, Steven Yalowitz, Erin Wilcox, and Audience Viewpoints Consulting

From the report's Executive Summary:

"PROJECT BACKGROUND: The Art of Science Learning Project (AoSL) is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded initiative, founded and directed by Harvey Seifter, that uses the arts to spark creativity in science education and the development of an innovative 21st Century STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce. In 2007, Seifter, along with artist/scientist Todd Siler and choreographer Liz Lerman, led an NSF symposium on the relationship between the arts, STEM learning and workforce development. In 2008, Seifter and colleagues at New York’s Learning Worlds Institute held a series of roundtables with science educators, which revealed a broadly shared belief in the connection between the investigative nature of science and the arts, and an appreciation for the potential of arts-based learning to foster passion for exploration and discovery in young learners. These meetings played an important role in designing a proposal, which was subsequently funded by the National Science Foundation (DRL-0943769). In 2011, Phase 1 of the project convened 425 science educators, teaching artists, museum professionals, classroom teachers, business leaders, policymakers, and academic researchers in regional conferences at the Smithsonian Institution, Illinois Institute of Technology and California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). The goals were to explore the connection between the arts, innovation and economic competitiveness; create communities of practice by sharing educational resources, curricula, and best practices that use ABL to strengthen STEM learning; and experience first-hand arts-based educational techniques that develop critical and collaborative thinkers for the STEM workforce."

From the online "Key Summary" findings:

"Arts-Based Learning Improved Creative Thinking Skills in Adolescents

High school groups using arts-based learning showed a large number of statistically significant increases in creative and critical thinking skills from pretest to posttest. Control groups showed no such increases.

Arts-Based Learning Increased Collaborative Behaviors in Adults

STEM professionals using arts-based learning showed significant increases in sharing leadership, emotionally intelligent behavior, empathic listening, mutual respect, trust, active following and transparency. Control groups only showed an increase in emotionally intelligent behavior, and in that behavior, the arts-based groups outperformed the control groups by a statistically significant margin.

Arts-Based Learning Led to Stronger STEM Innovation Outcomes in Adolescents

Expert panelists rated the STEM innovations created by the high school teams using arts-based learning significantly higher in terms of insight, clarity, problem solving and impact than those of the high school control teams. The effects were strikingly large, with the arts-based teams outperforming the control teams by as much as two points on a five-point scale.

Arts-Based Learning Helped Adolescents Apply STEM Learning to Their Everyday Lives

High school students experiencing arts-based learning rated the transferability of lessons from the challenge to current and future academic work, home life and extracurricular activities significantly higher than did the control group. The effect was very large; the difference ranged as much as two points."