Professor Receives Grant Toward Arts Enrichment


Written by: Justin Ikpo (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: June 28, 2017
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement was a Research: Art Works Award of $90,000 to Dr. Daniel Bowen, Assistant Professor in Educational Administration and Human Resource Development (EAHR). 
 
“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Research that illuminates the value and impact of the arts, like the work from Dr. Bowen, is essential to better tell the story of how the arts influence our lives.”
 
The grant will help fund Dr. Bowen’s continued research regarding the casual impacts of art enrichment on the academic and social outcomes of students. For years, Dr. Bowen has worked with the Arts Access Initiative of Houston to address the access of arts programs received by K-12. The initiative includes partnerships between the Houston Independent School District (HISD), Young Audiences of Houston, the Houston Education Research Consortium, and other community organizations. 
 
Each organization plays a role in the commitment to increasing the scope of the arts in the community.
 
“This grant supports randomized control trials from 42 HISD schools — predominantly serving students from historically underserved backgrounds — and looks to see how exposure to arts programs will ultimately effect student engagement,” said Dr. Bowen. “Each trial received substantial increases in their arts educational resources and learning opportunities and we are looking at specific aspects including academic achievement, social and emotional learning, and class attendance patterns.”
 
Dr. Bowen’s research interests specifically examine non-core subjects and other culturally enriching activities. Talks about the NEA have led to more nationwide questioning over its importance toward student curriculum. The most recent proposed national budget has the NEA and similar programs eliminated entirely.
 
In addition, Dr. Bowen said there was a lack of empirical research that could bridge the gaps to steering this conversation. However, Dr. Bowen believes that arts enrichment programs play an essential role in K-12 development that is genuinely worthwhile.
He referred to art as a mean of providing a skill set of expression that can often be internalized by students.
 
“My colleague and I think this funding will go a long way to help us distribute the findings from this study, which is the largest, most rigorous evaluation to date, on the impacts of K-12 arts learning opportunities,” Dr. Bowen said. “We are hoping to create a model that can be applied to other school districts to this country.”
 
Currently Dr. Bowen in the process of concluding data collection from students, teachers, and principals from the 42 HISD schools as well as leaders from participating arts organizations. The NEA grant will help provide the remaining resources necessary to go into the next phase.
 
“As this data collection phase wraps up, we’re transitioning to analyzing and reporting our findings to a broad range of stakeholders,” Dr. Bowen said. “We’re on target to share preliminary findings from the 2016-17 school year with HISD, Young Audiences of Houston, and the Houston Education Research Consortium in early 2018. 
 
More information about the grant can be found at the NEA and Arts Access Initiative websites.