Evidence from Music, Fiction, and Visual Arts: Transfer of Learning from the Arts?

Sunday, February 17, 2013: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Ballroom A (Hynes Convention Center)
With the emphasis on basic literacies, education today gives short shrift to the arts. In reaction, arts advocates claim that the arts are a means to improved academic skills and therefore deserve a central role in schools. However, the research base for this transfer claim is weak and consists primarily of correlational not experimental studies. In addition, few transfer studies are rooted in a rigorous analysis of the "parent" domain. The arts are complex domains and only with a clear understanding of the skills trained in the target art form can we develop plausible hypotheses about potential transfer effects to non-arts domains. Our first paper analyzes the components of musicality and discusses definitions, measurement, and accuracy, common obstacles to understanding complex behaviors. Our second paper analyzes the attentional and perceptual skills required for graphic representation, and argues that artists' flexibility increases the possibility for transfer to other domains that require similar kinds of perceptual analysis. Our third paper examines evidence for the often-heard claim that music training in childhood is associated with heightened IQ and academic achievement. Our fourth paper presents evidence that reading fiction transfers to elevated understanding of others and of oneself. Our final paper presents evidence that visual arts training is associated with growth in geometric reasoning skill. This symposium cautions against unwarranted transfer claims and presents recent evidence on transfer of learning from music, visual arts, and literature
Ellen Winner, Boston College
E. Glenn Schellenberg, University of Toronto at Mississauga
Transfer from Music: A Critical Examination of the Evidence
Ellen Winner, Boston College; Lynn Goldsmith, Education Development Center; Lois Hetland, Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Craig Hoyle, Education Development Center; Candace Brooks, Education Development Center
Relationship Between Visual Arts Learning and Understanding Geometry