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Behind the Curtain

In Memoriam: James Catterall
By Susan McGreevy-Nichols
Posted on 8/29/2017 6:42 PM

James Catterall

NDEO joins the arts education community in mourning the loss of James Catterall, who passed away on August 23, 2017 in Los Angeles. We celebrate his life and work, which was pivotal in advancing arts education research, and acknowledge with gratitude his contributions to our 2013 publication
Evidence: A Report on the Impact of Dance in the K-12 Setting.

Catterall was Professor Emeritus and past Chair of the Faculty at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, as well as Affiliate Faculty member at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development. He received a BA in Economics from Princeton University, an MA in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Minnesota, and a PhD in Education from Stanford University.

After retiring from UCLA, Catterall founded the Centers for Research on Creativity (CRoC), an independent research institution with centers in Los Angeles and London, whose mission is to understand human creativity and the conditions that can promote imaginative approaches to learning, design, and problem solving. Among the many areas studied by Catterall and his team at the organization, CRoC’s primary research interest include Creative Development in Students, Teaching for Creativity, which is comprised of teacher experience, relationship to creativity, training, and professional development, and Building Empathy and Collaboration into Teaching Practice and Student Engagement.


Among his many publications, Catterall’s seminal work Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art: The Effects of Education in the Visual and Performing Arts on the Achievements and Values of Young Adults proved pivotal in the field of arts education research. According to the abstract:


The results strongly connect arts learning with both general academic success and pro-social outcomes (i.e., outcomes such as volunteerism, involvement in the community, or civic participation). Moreover, the study finds that students of low socio-economic status benefited significantly from attending schools characterized as “arts-rich” (i.e., possessing a rich and complete arts curriculum) as opposed to those who had attended schools characterized as “arts-poor.”


Catterall was the Senior Advisor for NDEO’s publication Evidence: A Report on the Impact of Dance in the K-12 Setting, published in 2013 under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, his 2012 work The Arts and Achievement in At-risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies was cited in Evidence because of its findings that strongly link the arts to a positive impact on student learning. You can find more information about these documents in NDEO’s Dance Education Research and Descriptive Index (DELRdi).


Inspired by Catterall’s memory, NDEO remains committed to advancing dance education centered in the arts through research, including the publication of Journal of Dance Education and Dance Education in Practice, maintaining the Dance Education Research and Descriptive Index (DELRdi), and providing a comprehensive Publishing Resource for dance education scholars and researchers.