Volume 21 Number 13 May 12, 2020

“It Just Made Me Want to Do Better for Myself”: Performing Arts Education and Academic Performance for African American Male High School Students

Calvin Wesley Walton
Georgia Southern University, USA

Citation: Walton, C. W. (2020). “It just made me want to do better for myself”: Performing arts education and academic performance for African American male high school students. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 21(13). Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.26209/ijea21n13.


A wide body of research has been conducted which examines the relationship between arts engagement and academic performance for the general population of students in U.S. schools. To date, few studies have been conducted that examine the effects of arts-based learning experiences on African American males’ academic performance. To address this gap in the literature, this case study uses interviews and post-graduation outcomes to explore the effects of school-based performing arts engagement on academic performance among African American male high school students. Findings from this project indicate that immersion in school-based performing arts learning experiences strengthens academic skills development, improves overall school performance, and enhances post-school outcomes for African American male high school students. These findings suggest that bolstering arts-based school curricula and increasing access to performing arts learning experiences may improve school outcomes for African American males who attend U.S. public schools.

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