A Culture of Evidence

I never do a painting as a work of art.
All of them are researches.

Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, 1881-1973

Cultures of evidence
are those in which collecting and using performance data are embedded processes; in which measurement is a diagnostic tool rather than simply a reporting requirement; and in which evidence informs and transforms both planning and practice.

Why Ask Why

Research and evaluation activities at The Music Center are designed to serve three distinct yet complementary purposes.

  • Quality management and performance improvement: Monitoring, assessment, and evaluation of programs and initiatives.
  • Discovery and dissemination: Designing and implementing robust approaches to evaluation across a variety of settings, identifying and modeling evidence-based practices, and communicating broadly with arts educators, researchers, community stakeholders, and others.
  • Service to the field: Reaching out to those reaching in to us, whether through informal talks or formal conferences; in workshops, forums, or symposiums; connecting by way of social media and other web-based platforms; and participating in advocacy and policy-making efforts.

Learning for Improvement

Our approach to research at The Music Center is to borrow strategically from many traditions and paradigms, matching our methods and tactics to the question at hand – choosing and using the right tool at the right time. Our measurement portfolio includes quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods designs carried out in settings that range from small-scale workshops to large-scale initiatives across a whole school district.

Monitoring and measurement activities are woven throughout day-to-day operations at The Music Center, with program staff collecting and reviewing real-time data in the field. Our Director of Research and Evaluation, Kamella Tate, EdD, guides the design and testing of instruments, oversees evaluation plans and activities, conducts quantitative and qualitative data analyses, and prepares "learning casebooks" for use by staff, stakeholders, educators, and artists. More comprehensive research projects draw on the knowledge and expertise of partners from the region's dynamic arts and education communities.

Questions and Interests

Education and community programs at The Music Center offer a rich assortment of settings and projects for researchers interested in questions ranging from "what's happening?" to "did it work?" Of particular interest to us are:

  • Student learning in and through the arts
  • Teacher education, engagement, and retention
  • Academic motivation and school involvement
  • Arts integration and shared delivery models for instruction
  • School-home-community connections
  • Creative economies and cultural vitality

Making your unknown known is the important thing.

– Georgia O'Keefe, American artist, 1887-1986