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I can't answer your questions about arts-based research directly, but
I have persistently engaged in what I've considered to be arts-based
teaching throughout my 27 year elementary and teacher education
teaching career. A doctoral-student-participant in a sectional I was
leading several years ago mused that I was using art AS epistemology.
At this point in your dissertation proposal development, perhaps by
sharing some of my professional practice I can surface some more
questions to help you focus.
When I say arts-based teaching, I mean that I am engaging my students
in authentic arts-based processes, using authentic mediums, in
contexts(courses or units)outside of art...and...my primary purpose
in doing this is not to advance their levels of studio skill,
understanding or criticism. My primary purpose is to provide them
with a common experience (beyond the grasp of their prior knowledge
and experience, but within reach) which I can then use to help them
reflectively and/or metaphorically develop a deeper understanding
of learning, themselves, themselves as learners and (when
appropriate) themselves as future teachers...usually through some
combination of journaling and conversational unpacking.
There have been, however, what I feel are significant arts-advocacy
related byproducts of this process, especially with undergraduate
elementary teacher education students. While I have made no attempt
to formally document this (as one would for dissertation purposes) at
the teacher education level I have consistently observed and noted
the following patterns of response from students:
"I never knew I could be so creative!"
An awe-struck-like appreciation of the power of arts-based
experiences to engage and teach.
> and in transfer
A greater willingness to take personal risks in the future in
terms of trying or exploring a new process or idea.
A greater willingness to take professional risk by engaging
their students in developmentally-appropriate adaptations
or extensions of their arts-based learning experience...but
now within the context of teachng art.
New eyes of awareness toward art in their environment.
New attitudes of advocacy with their arts reseource people and
So what exactly is it that I do? Here are a list of courses/topics
and some of the different ways in which I've engaged students over
Ed Psych - used to develop concepts of skill development, modeling,
motivation, learning style preferences and multiple intelligences...
* A series of 10 "labs" using Grumbacher's "See for Yourself"
painting mountain landscapes watercolor curriculum. *Carving Little
People - applying wood carving techniques to 4"x1"x1" blocks of clay.
(6-10 in a semester)
* Carving applehead dolls - a process which seriously challenged
their research skills when "just" going to the library to look up how
to do it turned up nothing and they had to actually develop search
strategies to get their infomation.
* Basketmaking (2-3) materials selected by students spanned strips of
heavier papers, posterboard, corrugated cardboard, telephone wire,
other wires, vines and grasses but not cane or reed.
Elementary Curriculum -
Used to develop concepts of curriculum process through metaphor,
students are asked as part of their final exam to discuss their
understanding of curriculum process using their clay experiences as a
* A series of 6-10 pinched bowl forms ala Paulus Berhenson.
* Clay whistles
Used to develop the concept of the "YOU in cUrricUlUm."
* Walking stick "totems".
Interdisciplinary Connections-These have been used to support a
variety of reflective, metaphorical, DBAE and other curricular
Language Arts Methods -
* Drawing to Communicate - in the spirit of
Hanks & Belliston's DRAW and RAPID VIZ and more recently VIZ.ABILITY
*Drawing to Communicate - exploration of the visual narrative
approach to the writing process as for purposes of stimulus or
intervention ala extensions of Ruth Hubbard and Janet Olsen.
* Typography and DTP - design for nondesigners ala Robin William's
book as a natural extension of the writing process using word
* Handmade (recycled) Papermaking - connections explored
include value scales, geometry, fractions, ratios, hypothesis testing
and manipulation of variables, replication of results based on
documentation, designing attributes of the paper as intentional,
complementary extensions of the poetry written on it...
* BookArts - a natural
Math Methods -
* Making Molds of Tesselating (in the spirit of M.C. Escher)Shapes &
Makings Sets of Handmade Tiles - connections include temperature,
ratios, time, formulas, size, scale, %shrinkage...
* Enlarging Objects (in the spirit of Claes Oldenberg)
* Exploring Architekturs - based on three-dimensional explorations of
the golden rectangle and the divine proportion.
Traditionally, most students would only expect to encounter the
experiences described if they took an art or art methods course.
Unfortunately, those are still ELECTIVE OPTIONs in many
teacher education programs. (We reap what we sowl, eh?) The courses
named above are required of my students and if I'm teaching them,
then its a way that I can ensure that they have several positive
arts-based encounters as part of their preparation. That's a catch.
People can't be randomly assign to teach a course and design these
kinds of approaches.
I believe strongly in the need to equip the elementary generalist as
an effective classroom teacher of art (especially through/within
interdisciplinary connections) and an advocate of the resource
person, should they be so fortunate as to have one.
I hope I've succeeded in stimulating some ideas and raising some
questions that will be useful in helping you focus. Comments or
feedback are always welcome.
Best wishes on the development of your proposal.
Professor of Education - Coordinator of Elementary Education
joycem Concordia College Ann Arbor MI
> 1. What does one mean by arts based research?
> 2. How does one carry out an interpretive inquiry within a visual arts genre?
> 3. How is the relationship between art and knowing portrayed in the discourses
> of education?
> 4. How does one portray an arts based pedagogy? And how can one interpret the
> portrayals of arts based pedagogy?
> Comments on any or all would beneficial. I would especially like to hear from
> anyone who has been involved in arts based research.
> Searching for answers in PA,