Master of Arts in Art + Design Education Theses | 2014
Lauren Allen, MA 2014
ArtDoor Education: Experiential Education in the Arts and Outdoors for Holistic Development
The thesis aims to bring attention to the positive benefits of a student’s engagement with the arts and with nature. The introduction provides the reader with background on the author as well as definitions and explanations central to the thesis. The thesis is then divided into three major sections. The first is a comparative essay, comparing art education and outdoor education, under the umbrella of experiential learning. This is provided to show the overlapping positive benefits for students, with a specific focus on the potential for both well-being and for deeper learning. The second portion of this thesis provides a more fluid narrative, advocating for the importance of experiential education in today’s educational climate. Through a personal voice, it calls for heightened aesthetic experiences and creative encounters for students in order to educate from a more holistic point of view. The final chapter focuses on the introduction of a new term, artdoor education and examines how the intentional integration of art and outdoor curriculum can be achieved in school and in out-of-school time. By combining the attributes of art education and outdoor education we can attempt to reawaken the lost connection between individuals and the natural world, promote personal wellness and development and see that all students have the opportunity to flourish.
Kameko Branchaud, MA 2014
Beyond Dialogue: Socially Engaged Art as Educational Platform
Through an examination of the history of socially engaged art together with an analysis of select examples from recent years, the author explores ways in which the collaborative nature of socially engaged art has the capacity to elevate inclusion and equity in a community setting. The author’s investigation is inclusive of worldwide endeavors, representing both the global nature of public art and the versatility of social engagement in art. The selection of projects for this thesis was determined to highlight the varying ways engagement may respond specifically to matters of inequity and exclusion. The author examines the relationship of socially engaged art to activism, social justice, education, and the art world through historical precedents and contemporary practices. The thesis compares the model of socially engaged art to inquiry-based learning and examines the overlaps between the two and positive youth development. Through this comparison the author argues that art is an effective yet underutilized educational platform.
Grace Davis, MA 2014
Satisfying the Imagination
Have you stood in front of a painting and felt that you were having a conversation with the piece, understood the artist’s emotion in a brush stroke or perhaps had the unexplainable teary eye? How do we as educators emphasize imagination for students to be able to peel back the layers
and delve into a work of art? How do we, as artists, return to our immediate sensorial responses and translate this knowledge into curricula that allows for this exploration? Through teaching, personal practice, research, and observation, this thesis illuminates the importance of wonder in art education by exploring material encounters and visual observations, deciphering the elements that comprise these events, and defends them as essential to a more fuller art experience. Personal narrative illustrates moments of emotional phenomena in my art education paralleled by other’s stories. This, along with the utilization of contemporary and historic literature, contextualizes the evolution of what has been deemed as art proficiency in education, building criteria for the educative experience, both as making and looking. Research from museums provides possible systems to reinvigorate the interaction between the viewer and art and to reinforce imaginative exploration. This thesis concludes in a personal reflection on current educational trends in the museum and art classroom and recommends strategies that art educators can employ to more effectively allow for discovery over comprehension when
En-Ling Lu, MA 2014
Creativity, Pass it On
Since the term “creativity” first came into popular usage around late 19th century, it has evolved in human society, and become one of the essential forces that improve the quality of life in art, science, business and daily living. Employers search for creative intellects, while educators strive
to generate creative minds; artists struggle to pin down creative thoughts in visual forms, while psychologists research how human brains create. However, not all teaching methods foster creativity; some, like educational author Ken Robinson pointed out in 2006, even “kill creativity.”
Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” In what ways can an art teacher take part in igniting her students’ creativity? This thesis investigates the creative process by weaving scientific findings and artistic experiences, relates developmental theories to art
teaching practices, and extracts fundamental elements of the creative personalities that art teachers can pass on to their students.
(The full content of the thesis and related research materials can be viewed at creativityined.wordpress.com)
Jane Hoe, MA 2014
Good, Better, Best … (A Comparative Study of Five Highly Effective Art Teachers in the United States and Singapore)
A good deal of literature has been written on the characteristics of highly effective teachers in general education. However, what about the characteristics of highly effective art teachers? In what ways, if at all, are they distinguished from other teachers? What about the characteristics of quality in these art teachers? This thesis centers on these pivotal questions in order to more deeply examine and advance the teaching practices of K-12 art educators. Qualitative research methods combining critical analysis and philosophical research have been utilized. A literature
review was conducted, which required library visits and web document database searches designed to identify relevant journal articles, reports and research reviews. Additionally, the investigation involved narrative inquiry using personal accounts, interviews and classroom observations. The purpose of this thesis was to find answers to the thesis’ pivotal questions through an examination of scholarship and through comparative interviews conducted with five art
teachers from USA and Singapore.
Jennifer Kwack, MA 2014
Connecting the Dots: Mapping STEAM in K-12 Education
This thesis explores how arts – integrated education can positively effect the development and engagement of students in grades K – 12. In particular, this document explores how the STEM to STEAM initiative, which calls for the addition of arts to the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math, can play a role in furthering interdisciplinary, arts – integrated education. First, this document explains the importance of arts education in accordance with the views of modern education advocates, researchers, neuroscientists, and teachers. Subsequently, first – hand case studies, which were conducted through the RISD STEAM club in Providence, RI, act as an important sampling of the STEAM initiative in practice. Additional research shows how the implementation of the arts through STEAM ideology enhances students’ learning in other areas and disciplines like math and science. Through this research and the case studies, this thesis makes the argument that arts education is an essential component of students’ holistic development, and that it can stimulate and contribute to continued technological and social innovation in the United States.
Melita Morales, MA 2014
Creative Inquiry: Student Initiated Investigations in the Art Room
What is intrinsic to the inquiry process in an art classroom that allows students the opportunity to develop understanding and solve problems in a unique way? How does studio practice shape a mindset that is interdisciplinary and integrated? In what ways do student-initiated studio investigations lead to higher-order, critical thinking? We live in a world in which creativity is touted as the pathway to innovation, the direct line to success, to the solutions that will equip this generation to solve the world’s problems, but what does this mean in the art classroom? Is this yet another way to justify the place of the arts in school curriculum through vocational validation?
In this thesis, I build an argument for student-initiated inquiry in the art studio, which places teachers alongside young artists as guides and facilitators of learning. I situate current art education practices within a historical framework of teaching pedagogies and I examine current trends in arts integration and studio practice as arts-based research. I explore the investigative nature of the studio setting and the unique inquiry that opens the door to multiple, self-driven answers. I consider the opportunities to ask questions in high school courses through studio prompts, opportunities for reflection, and critique. The thesis also highlights examples of alternative learning spaces such as Fablabs, Hacker spaces, and Maker spaces as models of teaching and learning environments that allow for studio practice as research. I present ways in which the art studio, as a place of deep personal research, makes space for layering knowledge and fosters in students the development of deeper understandings and insights about the world. The focus is on inquiry that engages young students through the trajectory of curiosity and leads them to a strong sense of self.
Karina Esperanza Yanez, MA 2014
In Your Shoes: Culturally Responsive Art Teaching (One Pair of Shoes at a Time)
In your shoes explores the positive effects that out-of-school arts learning can have for African-American and Latino youth from low socio-economic communities in urban cities. Particularly, it focuses on reexamining the role of teaching artists in creating impactful, culturally, and personally relevant curriculum for his/her students. As a result of decreasing opportunities for creative and critical self-expression in public school art classrooms, students do not always have access to quality art experiences. The reduction in the time assigned for art in schools’ curricula there has been a significant increase in out-of-school arts programming for youth. However, all of these programs are not readily accessible to low-income minority youth. Accessibility to such programming is impacted by a number of broader social and political obstacles such as public transportation in large urban cities, financial circumstances, and family or cultural values that impact levels of access. Due to the informal nature of out-of-school arts programming, the role of teaching artists becomes an increasingly vital contributor in the development of impactful positive relationships with youth. This thesis examines the role of teaching artists and their relationship to the young people they work with framed within an
examination of the social, political, and economic contexts of education’s history. In doing so, the author argues for the importance of an understanding of educational history as the basis upon which teaching artists can develop culturally relevant instruction. The thesis is therefore a blend of historical, philosophical and narrative research in which interviews were conducted in order to discover ways in which the teaching artist is able to guide youth to use art as an empowering tool for critical thinking and social change.
Zhixian Zhang, MA 2014
ARTGO! & ¡CityArts! A Comparative Case Study of Two After-School Art Programs
In this thesis, the author explores current developments in after-school art programs both in China and USA. She conducts a review of select items of the U.S and Chinese literature on the role of art in after-school programs and their benefits to children and youth. The author provides a personal reflection of her journey to create a start-up after-school art program in Shanghai, China. The thesis makes a comparative analysis of ARTGO! Studio for Children in Shanghai and ¡ CityArts! for Youth in Providence, Rhode Island. Through these case studies, the author explores issues common to both programs such as: location, audience, structural organization, philosophy, teaching space, instructors, work procedures and family engagement. Further, the author reports on a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the two programs. Finally, she reports her studies of curriculum planning and classroom management of after-school art programs. She also reflects on her year at RISD.