Faculty of Education

Queen's University
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Engaging Students in Learning Through the Arts

In their study on the effects of The Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through The Arts program, Rena Upitis and Katharine Smithrim found that the arts engage all students in learning and improve the quality of their lives in school and beyond.

A student learning how to play drums.

While several studies link the arts to learning and to well-being, this study was the first of its scope conducted in Canada, and remains the largest study of its type to date.  The research involved almost 7,000 students in Grades 1 through 6.  Students from The Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through The Arts (LTTA) schools were compared with students in non-LTTA schools on math achievement and other learning indicators.

The LTTA program was developed to infuse the teaching of other subjects, such as language, math and science, with the arts. Artists work with teachers to develop units of study that meet the curriculum guidelines.

In addition to showing how the arts motivate students, the study highlights the emotional, physical, cognitive, and social benefits of the arts. Students should have opportunities to take part in a variety of arts activities. All teachers can provide arts experiences to their students, regardless of their teaching strengths or students’ backgrounds.

Key Findings

  1. The arts are an effective way to teach subjects such as math and science
  2. What matters most is that students are engaged physically in learning, and the arts involve the body in natural ways
  3. The benefits of the program occur for children of all backgrounds and socioeconomic classes

Further information: Rena Upitis, "Engaging Students Through the Arts," WHAT WORKS? Research Into Practice (April, 2011).