Art / Science / Innovation

Arts-Based Learning

pianoArts-based learning is the instrumental use of artistic skills, processes and experiences as educational tools to foster learning in non-artistic disciplines and domains.

During the past decade , a substantial body of practice has been established around the use of arts-based learning in K-16 and graduate education, large corporations, small and medium sized enterprises and a wide range of informal learning environments. This trend has been fueled globally by studies demonstrating correlations between engagement in the arts and academic achievement in students (1) ; SAT scores (2); and scientific accomplishment and innovation in adults (3,4). During the same period, clear theoretical framework s have been developed linking arts-based learning to effective innovation processes (5) and the development of innovative leadership (6).

In business, arts-based learning has emerged as a widely used approach to enhancing employee skills in areas such as high performance teamwork, change management and intercultural communication (7,8), with more than 400 of America’s Fortune 500 companies using artistic skills, processes and experiences to foster creative thinking and strengthen innovation processes (9). Arts-based learning is also used in more than half of U.S. medical schools to improve student observational skills (10) . It has also proven a successful way to strengthen the communications skills of engineering students (11) and is being integrated with increasing frequency into graduate level management education and executive leadership programs (12,13,14) .

Growing numbers of science centers and museums have successfully integrated the arts into informal science learning and, as the value of arts-based approaches to the promotion of scientific literacy has gained broader acceptance, arts-based learning has emerged as an experiential and interdisciplinary approach to STEM education that is increasingly seen to offer a distinctive new set of tools to advance creativity and engagement among STEM learners (15,16).



[1] Catterall, James S., with Richard Deasy (ed.) and others, Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development. Washington DC: National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts Education Partnership 2002.

(2)  The College Board, College Bound Seniors 2009.

(3)  Root-Bernstein, Robert, et al ArtSmarts Among Innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Michigan State University: University Outreach and Engagement, March 29, 2011

(4) Root-Bernstein, Robert, et al, Avocations of Nobel, National Academy, Royal Society, and Sigma Xi Members, Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2008, 51-63.

(5)   Austin, R. and Lee Devin. 2003. Why Managing Innovation is Like TheaterWorking Knowledge. Harvard Business School. Reproduced from Rob Austin and Lee Devin. 2003. Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work. FT Prentice Hall, 2003.

(6) Adler, Nancy, 2004 The Arts and Leadership:  Now That We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do?, Academy of Management Journal of Learning & Education, 2006, Vol 5, No 4.

(7) Seifter, Harvey, and Ted Buswick. 2005. Arts-Based Learning for Business. Emerald Group Publishing.

(8)  Seifter, Harvey, and Ted Buswick, eds. 2010. Creatively intelligent companies and leaders: Arts-based learning for business. Special issue of Journal of Business Strategy.

(9)  Seifter, Harvey. 2004. Artists Help Empower Corporate America. Arts & Business Quarterly.

(10) Rodenhauser P, Strickland MA, Gambala C.  Arts-related activities across U.S. medical schools: a follow-up study. Teach Learn Med 2004, 16:233-239.

(11)  Osburn, John, and Richard Stock. 2005. Playing to the technical audience: evaluating the impact of arts-based training for engineers. Journal of Business Strategy 26, 5: 33-39.

(12) Katz-Buonincontro, J. 2008. Using the Arts to Promote Creativity in Leaders. Journal of Research on Leadership Education Volume 3, Issue 1 (May, 2008).

(13) Nissley, Nick. 2010.  Arts-based learning at work: economic downturns, innovation upturns, and the eminent practicality of arts in business.  Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 31 Iss: 4, pp.8 – 20.

(14) Amundson, Wendy, The Art of Management: MBAs and the Arts, MBA Innovation, Summer/Fall 2011, 4-11.

(15) Michaela Labriole, Promoting Brain-Science Literacy in the K-12 Classroom, Cerebrum, August, 2010

(16)  Helena Carmena, Helping Students Relate to Science and ArtScienceBlogs, March 2011