The Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C. teams up with Lesley on groundbreaking research and policy initiative
Saturday, March 02, 2013
Lesley graduate students Miranda Hynes and Mary Brooks, both M.Ed. candidates in the Creative Arts in Learning Program, have been selected to ArtsEdSearch’s first fellowship class to analyze emerging research on arts in learning. The project serves as the nation’s first database focused entirely on the educational outcomes associated with student learning through the arts – one of Lesley’s hallmark programs.
“This is intended to provide a solid base of information for policy makers and educators about how arts education can inspire students across the curriculum,” said Brooks. “We’re definitely looking at how arts education can support 21st century thinking skills to create innovative thinkers who are flexible and willing to take risks in their learning.”
The fellowship stemmed from AEP’s partnership in 2011 with Lesley’s Creativity Commons, a university-wide program for scholars and students to explore the role of innovation in teaching and learning in education. A grant from AEP funded the initiative to provide research fellowships to students across Lesley’s graduate art programs to identify and summarize research for the launch of ArtsEdSearch.
“The Arts Education Partnership approached Lesley because of the substantial research on arts integration and arts education that’s been underway here in the last several years,” said Lesley instructor Lisa Donovan.
The initiative was so successful, according to Donovan, that the “Lesley Creativity Commons Model” was used and expanded into a national model for AEP’s higher education initiative to provide similar fellowships and training across the country.
Brooks and Hynes are among eight members of the inaugural ArtsEdSearch Fellowship class, whose fellows hail from Lesley, Harvard, Florida Atlantic University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Their mission is to contribute to a high quality database of information on the role the arts play in developing students’ creative thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration skills to help them prepare for college and career success.
As fellows, Hynes and Brooks analyze articles about art education, specifically outcomes of art education that are supported by research, working both independently and through regular web conferences with the fellowship class.
“It’s about validity, credibility and measurability,” said Hynes. “If you talk to any educator, they’ll tell you how important the arts are and they’ll tell you anecdotes about the impact on children, but unfortunately, in the larger world and in education funding, you can’t just say, ‘I know it works.’”
“There are strict criteria that studies must demonstrate to be included in the ArtsEdSearch database and we have to critically read these studies,” noted Brooks.
In April, as part of the ArtsEdSearch Fellowship, Brooks and Hynes will travel to Washington, D.C., for AEP’s 2013 National Forum: Arts, Education, and the Next America, which gathers national leaders to frame today’s most pressing education issues and provide thought-provoking ideas for empowered leadership in the arts.
Brooks is an artist, and she works as a research scientist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. After she graduates from Lesley in August 2013, she plans to develop arts integrated science curricula for high school and middle school science classes and create teacher training for science teachers who are interested in adding arts integration to their teaching approach.
“Learning through the arts is such a powerful way to make learning relevant and understand the concepts that underlie all the facts,” said Brooks.
Hynes is an artist and works as an instructor at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. She is scheduled to graduate from Lesley in May 2013. For her Master’s thesis, she’s writing a book titled, Don't Make Art, Just Make Something, which “centers around the idea that if you always try to make art, you miss out on everything else you can make.”
The initial fellowships at Lesley that led to the national “Lesley Creativity Commons Model” involved research fellowships awarded to six Lesley graduate students studying arts in education and therapy: Laura Hill, Dahlia Bousaid, and Rebecca Kirk in Community Arts and Education; Erin Sutton in Art Education; and Christine Hampton in Expressive Therapies.
Lesley faculty collaborated with the fellows through training in research, analysis of data, and publication of research summaries with policy implications. Faculty members included Donovan, who was then the Creative Arts in Learning Division Director, Creativity Commons leaders Gene Diaz and Martha McKenna, as well as Librarian Constance Vrattos and Director of Institutional Assessment Linda Pursley.
“The students found the process of collaborating with Lesley faculty and researchers enlightening and incredibly valuable as they considered the relationship between research in arts education and policy implications,” said Donovan.
To learn more abut the Arts Education Partnership and the ArtsEdSearch project, read more here.
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