Advocates of the arts agree that the K-12 curriculum should include dedicated time for arts instruction. Some have argued further that knowledge and skills acquired through the arts transfer to nonarts domains. Others claim that evidence of this kind of transfer is limited and instead argue that the arts cultivate valuable dispositions that help students succeed both in and outside of school. Another potential benefit of the arts has received little attention, however. Arts integration—the use of the arts as a teaching methodology throughout the curriculum—may improve long-term retention of content. A variety of long-term memory effects well known in cognitive psychology are reviewed, and it is argued that arts integration naturally takes advantage of these effects while promoting student motivation. This review of findings and applications provides an example of how existing research from neuroscience and cognitive science can inform the work of practicing educators.
Bringing research into educational practice is necessary but does not happen automatically. The Transfercenter for Neuroscience and Learning, at the University of Ulm in Germany, is set up to transfer (neuro)scientific knowledge into educational practice. In doing so we have learned why this does not happen automatically, and have tried to make sure it happens anyway. We have realized that transferring research into educational practice needs a special research approach, which we suggest could be labeled “translational research” as seen in medical research. We have also realized that transfer requires a special type of scientist. We try to hire generalists who work and think interdisciplinarily and who are committed to providing a service to practitioners. Finally, we feel that neuroscience provides a possible foundation for learning sciences.