Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts

Studies Show Classroom Residencies Make a Difference

A recent independent study1—funded by the US Department of Education and conducted in Fairfax County, VA—indicates that teachers using Wolf Trap Institute’s arts-integrated strategies have significant positive effect on children’s learning.

Residencies focused specifically on using the arts to improve math skills—the foundation for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEM learning is a local, state, and national priority.

Overview of study

Conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR), an independent third-party research firm, the study took place over 4 years (2010-2014).

The Wolf Trap Institute partnered with Fairfax County, VA Public Schools to execute a randomized, controlled study of the impact of arts-integrated techniques on early childhood STEM learning, as well as on professional development for teachers.

See Wolf Trap Institute activities come to life and learn more about the arts and STEM.

Key findings

  • Wolf Trap Institute ImpactWolf Trap Foundation’s Early STEM/Arts program had a statistically significant, positive impact on students’ math achievement. Wolf Trap students outperformed peers in control schools on the Early Math Diagnostic Assessment (EMDA). 
  • Teachers trained in Wolf Trap Institute techniques offered more opportunities for arts integration, and demonstrated higher levels of arts integration, particularly with respect to linking arts and math. 
  • The program demonstrated all features of effective, high quality professional development (PD). In measuring Wolf Trap Institute’s model against standards of effective PD, research confirms that Wolf Trap provides high quality PD by thoroughly integrating form, duration, collective participation, content, active learning, and coherence.
  • Teachers said the use of music, movement, and drama was beneficial for all students, but in particular for students who were shy, who had never been to school, or who were speaking another language. 

1 “Findings from the Evaluation of the Wolf Trap Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant,” Drs. Ludwig, M. & Song, M., American Institutes for Research.