Teaching Creativity and Innovation Through the Arts

Using arts-based learning to develop different methods to teach arts appreciation to STEM and business majors that enhance creative thinking.



Project Motivation: Every year, hundreds of thousands of college Freshmen in the United States take a required course in arts appreciation. This often consists of a single professor, standing in front of the classroom lecturing about the arts (the “sage on the stage”), covering the material in a required textbook and then asking students to take exams over the material. For many students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and business, this may be the only course in the arts they take during their entire college experience. Yet, we know that the arts can do so much more: they can contribute to learning skills in creativity, innovation, and inspire students to “think outside the box”. The creation of a curriculum to teach innovation and creativity through the arts – especially to STEM and business students – in the required standard arts appreciation course for college Freshmen would be invaluable and could potentially be adopted nation-wide.As a part of the current STEM to STEAM discussion internationally, this project will seek to develop different methods to teach arts appreciation to STEM majors and to provide evidence of the benefits of these approaches. This project will focus on the creation of such a curriculum and then obtaining the scientific evidence that such an approach enhances innovation and creative thinking more than the standard “sage on the stage” arts appreciation course. Using a campus-wide committee of educators from the Schools at UT Dallas, A&H professor Dr. Kathryn Evans will extend her research on arts-based learning at the University of Texas at Dallas by creating a new curriculum for the “Exploration of the Arts” Freshman course (ARTS 1301) and then testing the efficacy of this new curriculum compared to the more traditional curricula. She will be assisted by Dr. Roger Malina, Director of the Art-Sci Lab in ATEC, who will also provide additional resources and expertise.