Research Center Delves Into
Art in Classrooms, Personal Finance Training and Recreation
by Susan Katsaros
from Dateline (June 19, 2003)
Is student performance enhanced by visual
arts instruction in elementary school?
That’s just one of the recent evaluations and
surveys recently completed by the Social
Science Research Center under the direction of Gregory Robinson.
The center recently completed an evaluation of the
impact of art education on elementary school students in Santa Ana
Unified School District as part of a $23,306 contract from the California
Robinson, an assistant and two experts in elementary
education curriculum studied how artists presenting lessons on art
can affect overall student performance.
“The evaluation uncovered
that the artists knew art, but that didn’t mean they could
communicate art concepts with an elementary school student,”
Following the initial evaluation, artists in the
program received training on how to teach material that is age and
grade-level appropriate, as well as how to deliver the information
so it is understood by elementary school students.
Based on the evaluation, teachers requested lesson
information prior to having artists come to their classrooms. “The
classroom observation results indicated that engaging the classroom
teacher with the artist leads to a better experience for the artist
and the students,” Robinson added.
Now in the second phase of the grant, the SSRC is
examining student performance both prior to artists receiving additional
instruction and after such training.
Additionally, the SSRC assessed teachers who were
present while the artists conducted the lessons to determine if
they gained skills from these in-service opportunities. “We’re
interested in seeing if the teachers are incorporating art while
teaching the three Rs,” said Robinson.
“Our survey of teachers
clearly indicates that 84.3 percent believe that visual art education
should complement the core academic curriculum, rather than serve
as an alternative to, or respite from it,” added the researcher.
In other recent projects, the SSRC evaluated a pilot
program that teaches personal finance training to teachers and surveyed
Californians on the importance of outdoor recreation areas.
The California Jump$tart Coalition’s “Personal
Finance for Teachers in Training” demonstration project was
developed to provide finance management skills and infuse teacher
learning into the classroom. The SSRC, under a $16,405 contract
from UC Riverside, appraised the program, its curriculum and outcome
Under a $48,986 contract from Cal State Chico, the
SSRC also surveyed 2,500 California residents on their feelings
about recreational areas.
“The reason for this survey
is to determine if parks should cease with their expansion efforts,
allocate money from lottery funds for parks, or increase the recreation
focus on safety and quality outdoors,” noted Robinson.
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