U of A Researchers Reach Top Spot with New York Times Column Describing Crystal Bridges Research

U of A Researchers Reach Top Spot with New York Times Column Describing Crystal Bridges Research
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A New York Times column written by University of Arkansas researchers published Nov. 24 in the Sunday Review section of the newspaper reached the top spot as the most viewed and most emailed piece on the Times' website. The newspaper's Sunday edition has an estimated circulation of 2.3 million, and its website has more than 30 million unique visitors each month.

Brian Kisida, Jay Greene and Dan Bowen wrote the piece, "Art Makes You Smart," about the research they conducted with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The research explored the impact of school field trips to the museum. They found strong causal relationships between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes, including stronger critical thinking skills, higher levels of social tolerance, greater historical empathy and a taste for art museums and cultural institutions.

"We've been doing this really exciting work for the past two years, and it has been great to finally get the chance to share it," Kisida said. "The response has been huge, which signals how important this type of research is to parents and policymakers. Many people want education to be well-rounded, where children are exposed to diverse ideas and challenging perspectives."

Kisida is a senior research associate and Greene is a professor of education reform in the College of Education and Health Professions. Bowen recently completed a doctorate in education policy at the University of Arkansas and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Kinder Institute of Rice University.

Crystal Bridges was founded by Alice Walton, daughter of the late Sam Walton, and opened in 2011. An endowment at the museum pays for a program to bring school groups to visit at no cost to students or schools.

An announcement of the research findings at a news conference Sept. 16 at the museum in Bentonville drew worldwide news coverage, including a segment on NBC Nightly News. Sunday's piece in the New York Times, in addition to being the second-most emailed piece seven days after its publication, drew 105,247 likes and 32,400 shares on Facebook as of early this week. It was also popular on Twitter and continues to be tweeted and re-tweeted 10 days after its publication.

"Culturally enriching field trips are in decline in public education, and museums across the country report a steep drop in school tours," Greene said. "This research shows that the trips have significant benefits, particularly for disadvantaged students. These results should be an important consideration as schools make plans about whether and how to allocate time and funds for out-of-school learning experiences."


Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu


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