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Marleneanu EDFN 7303 Assignment #6

Martin, A. J., Anderson, M., & Adams, R. (2012). What determines young people's engagement with
performing arts events?. Leisure Sciences, 34(4), 314-331. doi:10.1080/01490400.2012.687631

#B3. Research Critique:

Martin, Anderson, and Adams (2012) present research concerning adolescents receptive arts
participation which seeks to answer the question, What determines young people's engagement with
performing arts events? (p. 1). This question was asked in light of theory and literature which highlight
the importance of young individuals settings as contexts for their development. The context of
performing arts events attendance was chosen for this study as prior research suggests that
adolescents involvement with the performing arts has beneficial effects on their academic and
nonacademic development (e.g., thinking skills, learning in other curriculum areas, transferable
vocational skills, and personal and social skills).
In relation to this, a major goal of this study was to help schools and other educational/arts-
based organizations find out how to enhance high school students engagement with the performing
arts. Discovering what factors are related (or not) to adolescents performing arts attendance, then,
would be informative no matter the specific outcome. Most related previous research did not include
school factors; this study did, exploring school and student, extracurricular, socio-demographic, and
family factors via a cross-sectional survey design targeted at students in grade levels 10 and 12 from 18
different high schools (898 students total). The survey consisted of rating scales from which the
researchers gathered quantitative data and examined it via multilevel, correlational, and hierarchical
multiple regression analyses.
One of the studys major findings was that there was a much greater variation from student to
student (or at residual) compared to that of school to school or state to state. The researchers suggest
that this makes it more complex to create effective education policies to promote arts attendance, and
Marleneanu EDFN 7303 Assignment #6

that organizations should therefore be aware of this variance during policy development. Overall in
terms of correlation, the study found that a higher level of receptive arts participation among high
school students was positively related to SES (higher), gender (female), age (older), participation (e.g.,
theater visits with schools, studying the performing arts, involvement in a drama group), family
involvement with the performing arts, and sporting events attendance. The study discusses the details
of these correlations and others, and provides tables of frequencies found of performing arts events
attendance (split into the categories of theater, music, and dance) for a total of 14 different factors (split
into the categories of socio-demographic, school and student, and outside school).
Overall, my reaction to this study is positive. It aligns with my beliefs that arts participation
assists with well-rounded development, and should therefore be promoted in schools and other
organizations. This studys research question, while not generally considered a pressing question in the
education world today, interests me, as I am a professional performing artist working for a nonprofit
organization, as well as a dance teacher of youth. I also formerly taught at a charter school for the arts,
so have seen students experience the value of connecting arts with education. Therefore, looking for
factors that relate to arts performance attendance is a small but important part of an organizations
policy development process in this area, as well as a supplement to research regarding the benefits of
including arts in education.
In terms of context and methodology, I believe that the cross-sectional survey design was
practical for the studys purpose. It made it possible to easily reach a large and diverse sample, which
allowed for sufficient data to be collected and analyzed. Using quantitative data and a correlational
approach was also practical for the large sample size chosen. However, using a non-intervention
approach such as this made it impossible to satisfactorily answer the research question (i.e., discovering
what determines young peoples engagement with performing arts events implies finding a causal
connection). Though the correlational design does not in any way indicate a causal relationship, it still
Marleneanu EDFN 7303 Assignment #6

allowed for significant connections among the variables to be revealed (p < 0.001). While this study is
based on the idea that receptive arts participation is beneficial for youth development, I do not see
researcher bias as an issue in this sense, as the purpose of this study was to look for the existence of
correlations, not if or how performing arts attendance affects development.
I do believe the methodology could have been much improved by using multiple methods
instead of just the survey (i.e., using triangulation). Possibilities could include randomly adding an open
ended question to some of the surveys and/or including interviews with a handful of the students, so
that qualitative date could be gathered on students own explanations for attending/not attending
performing arts events. Similarly, the researchers suggest that future research incorporate data
gathered from additional sources, such as teachers and parents. Another methodological limitation the
researchers discuss is how the cross-sectional design limits the type of data gathered, and that future
research is needed using a longitudinal design.
A specific weakness in regard to the studys instrumentation is the absence of validity evidence
presented for the survey and its rating scales. However, the researchers did test the surveys multi-level
scales internal consistency reliability using Cronbachs alpha, and found them reliable. A unique
strength of this study was the wide variety of factors it tested (especially the school-related factors
which helped to fill a gap in literature on the subject), though the researchers state that even more
factors for analysis would be beneficial in future research.
The sampling was strong in this study, in that the number of participants was greater than 10
times the number of variables, following a rule of thumb for multiple regression correlational studies.
Since the size was so large (898 students), the researchers used a conservative Bonferroni correction to
determine the risk of Type 1 error, and consequently lowered the significance level from p < 0.05 to p <
0.001. The sample also represented the population well in regard to gender, targeted age, and type of
school. However, the researchers indicated a sampling limitation due to an inadequate number of
Marleneanu EDFN 7303 Assignment #6

represented schools (18) and states (3) which limited the corresponding analyses to
preliminary/indicative variance components modeling instead of the desired multilevel regression.
I appreciate the researchers attention to potential study limitations, as well as their thought put
into the potential implications of the study in regard to practice, theory, policy, and research. While the
results were not groundbreaking, and the correlational (non-intervention) design of the study did not
allow for the research question to be satisfactorily answered, I believe the study fulfilled its goal of
uncovering significant relationships among factors for adolescents performing arts attendance. Overall,
I believe that Martin, Anderson, and Adams (2012) conducted and presented their study in a way that
provides a good basis for future receptive arts participation research to build upon (including qualitative
to add depth, and true experimental to test causal relationships).