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A systematic review of the contribution of art education to cultural learning in learners aged 5–16

What do we want to know?

How does art education contribute to cultural understanding (i.e. cultural identity - understanding of self and others in relation to culture)?

Who wants to know and why?

This review would be of particular interest to art educators and those interested in citizenship education, human rights, cultural identity and multiculturalism.

What did we find?

Two strategies were used to achieve an understanding of cultural identity through art education. In the first learners produced, exchanged and discussed artworks in multicultural settings. In the second learners made an intensive study of art and craft works of minority or non-western cultures. In each of the two strategies there are different kinds of cultural content, art media and visual resources used.

In the contexts of these small scale studies it did appear that art can further the understanding of the cultural identity of minorities. However this finding cannot be generalised.

How did we get these results?

An extensive search was undertaken for relevant research and this produced 2,471 citations. These were screened against inclusion and exclusion criteria and five studies were found to address the review question. These were assigned keywords so that they could be described in a map. They were then scrutinised for quality and their findings synthesised.

What are the implications?

The policy in this and other countries to try to affect understanding of cultural identity through art is not based on empirical evidence.

This report should be cited as: Mason R, Geareon L, Valkanova Y (2006) A systematic review of the contribution of art education to cultural learning in learners aged 5–16. Technical report. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPICentre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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