Art Courses in School Linked to Better Academic Performance

June 09, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Art elective courses in music, dance, visual art, and drama have a link with better grades in middle school, found a study.

The study from the George Mason University Arts Research Centre followed a large and diverse sample of preschool children up until they completed sixth, seventh, and eighth grade.

The study was led by Adam Winsler, Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology and was published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

The sample included a group of 31,331 students, of whom 61 percent were Latino, 31 percent were black, 55 percent were English Language Learners and 81 percent received free or reduced lunch.

Art takers different from non-art takers

Researchers assessed school readiness during pre-Kindergarten and used archival public school data during middle school.

“There were two questions this study was designed to answer,” said Winsler. “One is, how are kids who take middle school arts different from those who don’t, we found that they were very different, they were more advantaged even seven years earlier.”

Winsler said that students who are exposed to the arts in middle school tend to come from higher-income families with both parents in the household. The students also tended to do better earlier in elementary school and had stronger cognitive language and social skills at age 4.

How is taking arts associated with academic outcomes?

“The second question we were trying to answer is, once you statistically control for all of those ways that the arts takers are different from the non-arts takers, is the taking of those arts in a middle school associated with later academic outcomes,” Winsler said.

The answer, said Winsler, is yes.

Winsler said his research found that when all variables are accounted for, enrolling in the arts seems to be linked to better academic performance, in the same year and later years.

The benefits of the arts are not a new topic of discussion, but Winsler noted that since school arts programs are being cut, it is critical to support these claims with solid evidence. Up until now, studies have largely consisted of simple correlational studies, which cannot show that the arts contribute to better academic results.

“Although it is widely thought that the arts have all kinds of positive benefits for kids, the research on which that is based has been fairly weak in the past,” Winsler said.

Winsler’s study, while still correlational, is sizable, longitudinal, and effectively accounts for antecedent differences between students majoring in the arts and those who do not.

The study centre will also release studies soon that will examine creative forms in greater detail, such as music, dance, and visual arts. They will also continue to work with the pupils through high school, according to Winsler, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Children who play adventurously have better mental health

Indulging in outdoor games can make children more creative and boost their imagination skills. By playing outdoor games, your child’s concentration and observational and reasoning skills will improve too.


Story Source:

Materials provided by George Mason University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Adam Winsler, Taylor V. Gara, Alenamie Alegrado, Sonia Castro, Tanya Tavassolie. Selection into, and academic benefits from, arts-related courses in middle school among low-income, ethnically diverse youth. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/aca0000222

Page citation:

George Mason University. “Taking arts classes leads to better academic performance.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2019. <>.

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