Arts talent development: A follow-up study of students who attended the Educational Center for the Arts

Date of Completion

January 1988


Education, Art|Education, Special|Education, Secondary




Research about artistically gifted students has been minimal in recent decades, although academically gifted students have been the subject of considerable research. Children with artistic talents were named in 1972 by the Marland Report as a sub-group of the gifted and talented for whom provision should be made. The Gifted and Talented Children's Act of 1978 also designated artistic talent as one form of giftedness. There is no substantial body of research or theory regarding the development of artistically talented children and youth, although a study of pianists and sculptors was included among that of others excelling in cognitive or psychomotor fields.^ This investigation studied individuals who were selected for their artistic talents, demonstrated or latent, and enrolled for one or more years in the Educational Center for the Arts (ECA), New Haven, Connecticut while they were also attending regular high schools in participating districts. The qualitative study investigated students' experiences and perceptions through multiple sources of information. These included documentary materials as well as oral history interviews with subjects which were recorded and studied in order to develop understanding of their experiential backgrounds relative to talent development. Information from questionnaire responses, correspondence and conversations was studied, in depth, to develop further understanding of the influences affecting the development of artistic talents and the effects of attending ECA. The data included information about subjects' families and home lives, their early school experiences and activities, arts interests, private lessons, teachers and mentors, high school experiences, and perceived influences upon the development of their talents, interests, and goals before, during, and after participation in the ECA program. The relationship of ECA experiences to later educational and career attitudes and decisions was investigated to determine, if possible, the role of ECA in relation to arts talent development.^ The subjects studied were former students of that school who attended during 1974 and 1985 and whose participation in the program was generally for more than one year. The study and comparison of early and recent groups, respectively designated Group 1 and Group 2, was planned to afford a valuable breadth in subjects' experiences and viewpoints. The comparison also provided insight into the continuing development of that special education program for the arts talented. ^