Key Research: Theatre and Arts Education

Theatre Skills are Life Skills.

Students performing a play on stage, dancing in early 1900s outfitsParticipating in theatre builds students’ creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking abilities. Arts education drives better outcomes for students, including higher graduation rates and SAT scores.

The research about the value of theatre education is clear, and you can explore it all in this curated collection of the most important studies and reports in the field, led by EdTA as well as our partner organizations.

TIP: Identify more research applicable to theatre and arts education using the Arts Education Partnership’s ArtsEDSearch tool.

Did You Know?

95% of school administrators believe that theatre experiences improve students’ overall academic skills. 2012 EdTA-Utah State University Survey of Theatre Education Programs in U.S. High Schools
As of 2020, The last comprehensive national arts education report by the U.S. Department of Education is over 10 years old. Americans for the Arts
Audience-based participation in the arts and personal participation in creating art are both linked to higher levels of civic engagement and social tolerance. Journal of Civil Society, Leroux and Bernadska, 2019
Arts education helps to increase students’ ability to manage behavior, make decisions, and cultivate a positive concept of the self. William Penn Foundation, Holochwost, Palmer Wolf, Fisher, & O’Grady, 2016
44 states require districts or schools to offer arts instruction at the elementary, middle, and high school level, but only 32 states define the arts in statute or code as a core or academic subject. National Center for Education Statistics, 2020
At-risk middle school students engaged in an after-school musical theatre program demonstrate improved confidence, creativity, resiliency, responsibility, collaboration, and sense of community. Capturing Student and Teacher Creative Growth through the After-School JumpStart Theatre Program, Year Two Report, 2017
High school students who earn multiple arts credits are five times more likely to graduate than students with low involvement in the arts. National Endowment for the Arts: The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, 2012
Students attending live performances of theater (i.e., field trips and school performances) demonstrated higher levels of social emotional skills, and stronger command of the plot and vocabulary of the play they attended, versus viewing movie adaptations of the same plays. Educational Researcher, 2018
“An arts education has been shown to raise students’ ability to critique themselves, their willingness to experiment, their ability to reflect, and also to learn from mistakes.” Arts Education Policy Review; Robinson, 2013
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