A systematic review of the contribution of art education to cultural learning in learners aged 5–16

Technical report


Mason, R., Gearon, L. and Valkanova, D. 2006. A systematic review of the contribution of art education to cultural learning in learners aged 5–16. London EPPI-Centre, Institute of Education.
AuthorsMason, R., Gearon, L. and Valkanova, D.
TypeTechnical report
Abstract

This review was prompted by a concern to collect
evidence about art education and cultural identity formation. Art is widely viewed as one of the main communication systems in most cultures and as a medium for transmission and transformation of culture. In the past, art curricula tended to be dominated by an elite tradition of western fine art.

The wider range of cultural practices and identifications being advocated as a result of multicultural reform raises practical difficulties for art teachers. These are widely debated: for example, how to teach cultural heritage and which kind of cultural content to include. Governments are increasingly advocating the use of art education to redress pressing societal problems, such as social exclusion and culture conflict. However, the nature of such curriculum interventions and their impact on learners’ cultural identifications is unclear.

This systematic review covers a section of the
research literature on art and cultural learning.
The literature is first described in a map and then
assessed for quality and synthesised.

Aim
The aim of the review is to provide evidence about
the contribution of art to cultural education for
learners aged 5–16 (i.e. understanding of self and
others in relation to culture).

Conclusions

Policy
Probably the most significant finding is that the
extensive literature discussing the positive contribution of art to cultural learning in the United Kingdom is not supported by empirical research. The review highlights the worrying possibility therefore that publicly funded policy in art and cultural understanding is without a significant evidence base.

Practice
The majority of studies included in this review are
doctoral theses. They were carried out in collaboration with school teachers and were practice based. Although this probably caused them to be quite small scale, they provide detailed examples of experimental curricula. This is perhaps indicative of a desire by some practitioners for research evidence to guide them on the topic.

Research
The research reports included in this review are
small-scale evaluations of curriculum experiments
by the participants. There was very little hard,
empirical evidence in them to support claims that
art education affects positive changes in learners’
understanding of others and self. This suggests
that more reliable and valid research in this area of the art curriculum needs to be carried out. The Arts Council of England (2002), for example, could see it as one of its functions to investigate systematically the impact of art education interventions on identity formation and cross-cultural understanding as part of its Creative Partnership Scheme.

KeywordsArts; Art education; Cultural identity; Art curriculum; Systematic review
Year2006
PublisherEPPI-Centre, Institute of Education
Place of publicationLondon
Official URLhttp://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Portals/0/PDF%20reviews%20and%20summaries/Art_rv2_Tech_Report.pdf?ver=2006-08-15-161036-610
Output statusPublished
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File Access Level
Open
Publication dates
Print2006
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Dec 2020
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