We estimated a topic model with 10 topics, 812 open-ended responses, and a 322 word dictionary. (after removing stop words). The resulting topics are interpreted and described in the accompanying sections, and the responses reflect two major topic branches: Social Identity and Different Perspectives. The detailed methods for estimating the model can be found in the section on Topic Modeling and Interpretation..
What role did the arts play in your development as a person, friend, colleague, and student during college?
This question asked about the role that the arts played in relational terms – to self, and to self in interaction with others. Broadly, these impacts around development of self fall along two main branches: Social Identity and Different Perspectives. The topic Social Connections indicated new and strengthened social bonds and supporting friends by attending and participating in arts activities. Students also reported growth or change in the areas of Personal Identity, Skill Acquisition, New Perspectives and Cultural Understandings, Better Life Balance, and, as might be expected, a Deeper Appreciation of the Arts. Tken together, this array of topics suggest a significant pro-social role for the the arts in the students’ social (and skill) development.
This node of responses focuses on the impact of the arts in college on gaining new perspectives, skills, cultural appreciations, and social connections, as they related to understanding others. Often, engagement in the arts contribute to an expanded world-view. Students also saw the importance of their arts engagement in developing appropriate work/life balance, or making them a more well-rounded and cultured individual.
A more singular node of responses in the Different Perspectives section, students indicate in Deeper Appreciation, predictably, that involvement in the arts led to a deeper appreciation of the arts themselves, and of the effects the arts can have on individuals. These include arts interest, creativity, and emotional health.
“The arts have been a mechanism through which I have learned many important lessons in many of my classes. It has made me realize that art can move me, and can move others. It has made me appreciate others more, and made me appreciate my own creativity and desire to inspire creativity in others.”
“Going to art events with friends helped me socialize, helped me open my mind, and become more accepting and open to hearing others.”
“I have a more open mind now and it enhanced my social skills.”
“It made me want to go to Florence, Italy for my semester abroad and study art history. It makes me constantly strive for creativity and it makes me appreciate little things in life.”
“I wouldn’t say the arts contributed to my development too much per say, but it did offer me some insight into the subject that I wouldn’t have had before. It also improved my mood since I enjoyed spending time with the arts.”
Multiple student responses under Different Perspectives: Deeper Appreciation includes the phrase “open-minded,” expressing that attribute as a necessary and well-understood ingredient to a greater or deeper understanding in all things. Under the Open-Mindedness node, the two sub-nodes reflect two areas where arts engagement create specific opportunities to better understand and appreciate both the global and the personal perspective. Student respondents in the Cultural Understanding node describe interaction with the arts engendering in them an expanded worldview that embraces both cultural differences and diverse viewpoints. The importance of a balanced, self-aware, and well-rounded life are the insights derived through the arts and illustrated in the student responses in the Finding Balance in Life node.
The responses in this section speak about the way engaging with the world through the arts created new knowledge, as well as understanding of cultural differences and diverse perspectives. The arts also served as an effective way to express and communicate cultural knowledge to others.
“Involvement in the arts gave me a broader understanding of the ways and methods of self-expression and cultural differences.”
“The Arts helped me understand different peoples’ perspectives (and the different perspectives of people from different cultures than myself) in a way that a textbook never could. This new understanding helped me develop into a more caring, compassionate, and socially-aware person. This new understanding also fueled my desire to pursue a career in immigration law.”
“It’s so corny, but they helped me grow as person and see the world from different point of views.”
“If I weren’t a reader and writer I wouldn’t appreciate the different ways that people see the world and be able to better understand them.”
“Being surrounded by creative people has given me a much fuller and broader appreciation for what beauty and creativity look like, and how they can be manifested in different forms. This has helped me better understand the way different people see and experience the world and the different things they appreciate. Visual arts, graphic design, and architecture have immensely strengthened my communication skills - both verbal and visual.”
Student responses in this topic area predictably speak to the role the arts play in developing a balanced and full life, but also in developing personal perspectives that contribute to this ideal well-rounded state. Organization, knowledge, reflection, contemplation, reliability, gratitude, creativity, self-awareness, and expression were the kinds of outcomes that students reported contributed to a desirable life balance.
“Helped me to define my own sense of identity, helped me to find balance in my time between school work/social life/personal enjoyment.”
“The arts have helped my continue a balanced lifestyle (by helping to relieve stress), and they have also helped me become a more “cultured” person by viewing art from different cultures.”
“It helped me become more organized and develop professionally. It also helped me get a better view on the world and appreciate what I have.”
“They helped facilitate and nurture friendships and helped me grow into the person I am by accumulating different experiences.”
“It helped me explore my own beliefs and contemplate new knowledge and perspectives I gained from other people and their experiences. Art helped me become a more open-minded, thoughtful, and well-rounded person.”