The Katonah Museum of Art (KMA) contracted RK&A to evaluate its early childhood program, ArteJuntos/ArtTogether (ArteJuntos). ArteJuntos is a bilingual art and culture-based family literacy program that introduces low-income, educationally at-risk preschool children and their families to the KMA. Using works of art in KMA’s exhibitions, the program connects parents and their children (ages 3-5) to activities that support children’s emergent literacies—observation, oral and receptive language, and critical thinking skills.
How did we approach this study?
RK&A approached the planning and evaluation process for ArteJuntos through a lens of intentionality. Before collecting evaluation data, KMA and preschool staff worked with RK&A to clarify the intended impact of ArteJuntos, define and refine intended student and parent outcomes, develop measureable indicators for the intended outcomes, and design a rigorous scoring rubric. RK&A utilized a mixed-methods approach that combined quantitative and qualitative methods—rubric-scored one-on-one student assessments (before and after the program), parent surveys (before and after the program), parent focus groups, and teacher interviews.
What did we learn?
Evaluation results demonstrate that ArteJuntos positively affects school readiness (although some of the differences may be due to developmental growth as well) and parents’ engagement in their children’s learning, which have been proven to lead to greater success in school and life, particularly for low-income and Latino families. Children’s greatest growth was in their critical-thinking skills, particularly their ability to observe closely, provide elaborate descriptions of what they see in a work of art, and assign meaning to (or interpret) images. Parents experienced the greatest growth in two outcomes—their awareness, perceptions, and visitation of informal learning environments, such as museums, as well as their empowerment to be teachers to their children at home.
What are the implications of the findings?
In the last fifteen years, there have been many research studies that measured how inquiry-based, educator-led group dialogues help promote learners’ critical-thinking skills. Nevertheless, none of the aforementioned studies focused on preschool students, which makes the findings of this study all the more notable and exciting. Results show that ArteJuntos affects preschool children’s school readiness in important ways, as stated above. Although the sample is small and there are problems inherent in comparing pre-school children from pre- to post-program because of children’s rapid developmental growth, RK&A believes our intentional process of planning and assessment yielded an accurate measure of students’ responses to works of art in the context of this unique program.
See all Katonah Museum of Art projects.