Digital music lab created at the launch of the Arts Infusion Initiative (2010).
When I speak, my voice will be more powerful than a gun.
And when I am silent, my thoughts will be louder than a bomb.
-Arts Infusion youth participant in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center’s annual Louder Than A Bomb poetry competition (2012).
What Are the Key Findings?
Key Finding 1
Arts Infusion youth participants showed statistically significant and substantial improvements in social and emotional learning skills, as measured by conflict resolution, future orientation, critical response, and career readiness.
Pre-post assessments (n=320) of Arts Infusion youth participants in the 2014–15 school year showed statistically significant (p<.001) and substantial improvement across all measured social and emotional learning goals, including conflict resolution, future orientation, critical response, and career readiness. Most youth were initially assessed at a “developing” level when beginning Arts Infusion programming and were at near “accomplished” upon completion. Although the research design precludes causal attributions for these improvements, the differences are sizable. The percentages of improvement ranged from 27 percent for conflict resolution and career readiness to 29 percent for critical response and 36 percent for future orientation. Similar improvements were evident for male and female youth, for JTDC and community program settings, and for music, dance, literary arts, visual arts, and theatre genres.
Percentages of Improvement in Social and Emotional Learning Goals
Note: All improvements were statistically significant at p<.001. Paired samples t-tests were run for 320 pre- and post-assessments from 11 organizations (2014-15). Average time between pre-post was 11 weeks
Key Finding 2
Arts Infusion teaching artists with strong artistic knowledge and classroom management skills were effective at engaging and inspiring youth.
Arts education is not only about the content being delivered but also about who delivers it and how. Many Arts Infusion teaching artists were highly skilled, credentialed, and accomplished in their artistic fields. Fifty-two percent had been arts educators for over 10 years, 46 percent had a graduate degree, and 36 percent had an undergraduate degree. Further, 64 percent had helped justice-involved or at-risk youth for more than five years; 36 percent had been doing so more than 10 years.
Many teaching artists expressed the importance of “art modeling,” or teaching art in a way that youth see it as a living medium, rather than a historical artifact. Because many of the teaching artists shared a similar racial/ethnic or cultural background with students, grew up in Chicago, or were embedded in Arts Infusion neighborhoods, they were able to engage in art modeling by demonstrating the existence and value of art creation by people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, locations, and socioeconomic status. Interviewed youth said they wanted to learn from teachers who "looked like [themselves],” and several teaching artists were alumni of the Arts Infusion programs or had prior experiences with justice involvement.