This paper reports a research study into the effects of rich, sustained visual arts instruction on 103 inner-city 9 year olds in two major US cities. We use the lenses of social learning theory, theories of motivation and self-efficacy, and recent research on artistic thinking to investigate the programs ’ effects on children’s self-beliefs and creative thinking. The study enlisted a pre-post measure, treatment-comparison group design along with structured observations of participant and comparison group classrooms. The arts students made significant comparative gains on a self-efficacy scale and on an “originality ” subscale of a standard creativity test. These effects are attributed to children’s engagement in art and to the social organization of instruction including reinforcing peer and student-adult relationships. Relationships between self-efficacy beliefs and tendencies to think originally are explored
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