Arts Education and Social-Emotional Learning Outcomes Among K-12 Students

What's New

Social and emotional learning is a topic of increasing focus in the education sector. To further explore the topic, the UChicago Consortium partnered with Ingenuity to produce a report that includes two components: a review of literature on this topic and an interview-based fieldwork component with educators, administrators, students, and parents in Chicago Public Schools. The authors found a widespread belief that arts education contributes to childrens and adolescents social-emotional development. Specifically that:

Exposure to arts opportunities allows students and teachers to engage with one another in a way that often stands in contrast to how they engage with each other in the context of regular academic instruction and that provides rich opportunities for social-emotional learning.


Arts education has social-emotional effects regardless of instructor intentand these effects can be either positive or negative.

Why It Matters

Evidence suggests that practices traditionally found in arts education can play a critical role in developing college- and career-ready skills, such as innovation and collaboration. Participation in arts education processes and practices can translate into the development of both artistic and social-emotional competencies, including self-management, self-discipline, interpersonal skills, and self-expression, that extend beyond arts. It is through ongoing cycles of age-appropriate action and reflection that young people build foundational competencies for long-term success. While the arts provide an excellent vehicle for this development, these processes and practices can be replicable across subject areas.


Key takeaways for educators include:

Be intentional about integrating social and emotional growth into an academic discipline. How an instructor teaches often matters more than what they teach.


Create safe spaces in which students feel comfortable taking productive risks, opening up to expose their own vulnerabilities, and being challenged.


Provide opportunities for students to engage in cycles of action (encountering, tinkering, choosing, practicing, and contributing) and reflection (describing, evaluating, connecting, envisioning, and integrating).