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Knowledge From the Field

The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education

Published: June 2009

Publisher(s): Harvard Graduate School of Education

Author(s): Seidel, Steve; Lois Hetland; Patricia Palmer; Shari Tishman; Ellen Winner

Funder(s): Arts Education Partnership, Wallace Foundation

View Report (136 pages; 504KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Arts Education


Through interviews, site visits, and a literature review, the study focuses on addressing three key issues: how high quality arts learning and teaching is conceived of and defined in the field; which indicators are identified as valuable activities of arts learning and teaching; and how a program’s foundational decisions affect the quality of outcome.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=For the majority of interviewees, ideas about what constitutes quality in arts education were inextricably tied to their values and to fundamental issues of identity and meaning.

=The question of what constitutes high-quality arts education is deeply linked to the question of why the arts should be taught; when arts educators discuss excellence they also express ideas about the fundamental purposes of arts education – ideas about what students ought to learn through the arts and why these outcomes are important.

=Decision makers at all levels including those distant from the classroom (e.g., administrators, funders, policy makers), outside the room (e.g., parents), or “in the room” (e.g., students, teachers, artists) affect the quality of arts learning experiences

Geographic Focus: National

Subjects/Keywords: Arts Education; Quality Education; Community Engagement; Artistic Expression.

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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