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Conference Information

The Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education
Sponsored by The Seminar for Research in Art Education
Presented at the National Art Education Association’s Annual Convention

Date: Friday, March 2, 2012
Time: 6:00 - 8:50 PM
Session Title: SRAE Graduate Research Session Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education
Description: This session features the cutting edge work of top doctoral students in our field who have been nominated by their dissertation advisers to present their research at the National Art Education Association.
Moderated by: Professors Christine Marme Thompson, Ph.D., Penn State School of Visual Arts and Rachel Marie-Crane Williams, Ph.D., University of Iowa School of Art and Art History


Presenter: Meaghan Brady Nelson, The Ohio State University

Advisers:

Dr. Christine Ballengee-Morris, Co-Chair of Dissertation Supervisory Committee and Dr. Karen Hutzel, Co-Chair of Dissertation Supervisory Committee

Title:

How Social Consciousness and the Development of Social Responsibility Can Grow Through the Meaning-Making Processes of Collaboration and Digital Artmaking

Abstract:

Conducted as an arts-based service-learning project, in a joint community space, this study investigates the challenges and opportunities for college students and minority youth learning alongside one another through digital collaborative artmaking. Through a layered process of creating meaning-making, the participants are challenged to experience issues of access and inequality with the involved curriculum and technology driven learning environments. Utilizing participatory action research (Stringer, 2007), facilitated as a service-learning project and grounded in social interdependence theory (Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, R.T., 2009), this study further investigates students’ critical social understandings of inequity issues dealing with gender, race, education and socio-economic status through the collaborative processes of exploring meaning-making in artmaking with the use of digital technologies in order to collaboratively mediate their learning.


Presenter: Joy Berting, University of Georgia

Adviser:

Dr. Tracie Constantino

Title:

Examining Middle School Students’ Empathy with the Environment Throughout a Critical Place-Based Art Education Program

Abstract:

The ecological imagination calls for a new mode of education: education that embraces the arts as a way to conceive of new ecological perspectives, other ways of being in relation to the earth, better ecological alternatives, and new dialogues about our role in the world. Through a critical place-based art pedagogy, education can become a means of awakening the ecological imagination—opening the world to new possibilities, new critiques, and, most importantly, new acts. Empathy is especially appropriate to study as an outcome of a critical place-based art program because of its ability to facilitate connections and its close ties with aesthetic experience. Thus, the purpose of this ongoing mixed methods case study is to examine how middle school students in a critical place-based art program experience empathy with the environment. Operating in the pragmatic paradigm, the study asks the following questions: How do middle school students experience empathy with the environment throughout a critical place-based art program? How does participation in a place-based art education program affect students’ pro-environmental orientations (ecological paradigm)? Which aspects of a place-based art education program, if any, contribute to students’ empathy with the environment? Why? Drawing exercises, interviews, surveys, reviews of visual/verbal journals, observations, and focus groups will be used to answer these questions. This study is especially relevant for art educators and administrators seeking to develop programs that are relevant to students and capable of producing empathetic, ecologically-minded, active citizens who are capable of working toward social and ecological change in their communities.


Presenter: Amanda S. Fry, Purdue University

Adviser:

Dr. Robert Sabol

Title:

Examining the Experiences of Academically Struggling Students Serving as Mentors in the Visual Arts

Abstract:

As a result of my experiences as an art teacher and a mentor, I became interested in creating a program in which academically struggling high school students would become art mentors to elementary students. While teaching at an alternative high school in an urban setting, I noticed the art room was a safe haven for my students who struggled academically. This personal experience is supported by various studies, showing involvement in the visual and performing arts strengthens academic success, improves emotional development, and reduces inappropriate behaviors (Boldt & Brooks, 2006; Catterall, 1997; Respress & Lufti, 2006).

Alongside experiences with art classes, I became interested in the benefits of mentoring after serving as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Being a mentor was a powerful experience for me, and research has shown mentoring and tutoring programs are often just as beneficial to the mentor/tutor as they are to the mentee/tutee (Benard, 1990; Gensemer, 2000).

This presentation describes a semester-long art program in which high school students with a 2.5 or lower GPA were paired with elementary school students into mentoring teams. The goal of the program was to describe what it is like to serve as an art mentor and determine if the program had any impact on academic achievement, self-concept, and school engagement. Although data analysis is ongoing, preliminary findings suggest the art mentors did not exhibit a statistically significant change in self-esteem or school engagement, but there was an average .5 increase in GPA.


Presenter: Stephanie Harvey Danker, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

Adviser:

Dr. Michael Parsons

Title:

Strengthening Relationships Between an Art Museum Educator and Local Teachers

Abstract:

There is a gap between PK-12 teachers and museum educators that hinders effective communication and collaboration (Ebitz, 2008; Zeller, 1985). The most important purpose of this research was to learn from an attempt to bridge this gap between one museum educator in a small contemporary art museum and local PK-12 teachers. The project was an attempt to form a community of practice (Wenger, 2007) through the development of an educator group and a series of professional development workshops at the museum. The research was to study the evolution of the group over16 months. During that time, many events and collaborations took place in the schools and in the museum, in addition to the workshops. Strengthened relationships over time between the museum educator and local teachers led to new initiatives and partnerships towards utilizing museum resources in school curriculum. These relationships also led to new understandings of one another’s professional practice.

Collaborations between museums and schools involve a commitment toward working together toward shared goals (Berry, 1998; Griffin, 2007), and should lead to shared ownership of the resulting educational programs (Wilson, 1997). Themes that emerged from the study include: the importance of administrative support, the developing relationships between participants, and the benefits for local schools. Outcomes of this action research study will be shared, and considerations for strengthening relationships between art museum educators and local teachers will be discussed.


Presenter: Yuha Jing, Pennsylvania State University

Adviser:

Dr. Mary Ann Stankiewicz

Title:

The Museum Ecosystem: Using Ethnography to Examine an Art Museum as a Social Ecosystem Embedded in Community

Abstract:

This dissertation is an ethnographic case study of the Avery Art Museum (pseudonym) in the Midwestern United States. I use ethnographic research methods such as interviews and observations to understand the museum as a living part of the community. Using an ecological perspective as the theoretical framework, I examine the museum as a social ecosystem in which staff members and the community are linked together and influence each other. All staff members from different positions and levels, visitors, community leaders, and educators were included in this study to tell a holistic story of interconnectedness and interdependence of the museum and the community. In addition, this study examines how organizational structure and communication systems among staff members, departments, and visitors influence the museum’s overall practice as a community learning site. I also discuss the museum’s obstacles to providing open, reciprocal communication and collaboration among staff and diverse community members. This is an informative story of a small art museum and its challenges that is not often heard in the museum field.


Presenter: April Renee Mandrona, Concordia University

Adviser:

Dr. Kathleen Vaughan

Title:

What Can We Make with This? Creating Relevant Art Education Practices in Rural South African Communities

Abstract:

This presentation will explore the possibilities of art-making and art education teaching practices within a rural South African setting. Of interest is the potential of art education to address issues faced by individuals in their daily life and enable dialogue, awareness, and small-scale change. Many people living in rural townships are confronted with numerous issues related to poverty, epidemic illness, violence, gender inequity, racism, agism, etc. The purpose of this research is to work collaboratively with rural, under-resourced communities, with particular focus on vulnerable groups (e.g, youth and unemployed women) to develop and implement art activities that respond to local specificity in relevant and meaningful ways. This research aims to identify the benefits of low-tech media in art education and explicate some of the complexities involved in the creation of financially and environmentally sustainable art education practices. Thus, the incorporation of art supplies, tools, and processes that can be sourced locally and at little or no cost (i.e., working with what is at hand, including materials that are recycled or repurposed or the use of readily available indigenous materials such as scrap wood, and natural clay and fibers) is emphasized. Also key to addressing issues faced by these communities is the creation of environments where participants can interact with others, participate in activities of common interest, which offer both challenge and enjoyment, and receive supportive guidance. Examples by participants will illustrate the use of art materials and techniques that draw on traditional sources or employ available assets in innovative ways.


Presenter: Kim-ping Yim, Ohio State University

Advisers:

Professor Deborah L. Smith-Shank & Professor Christine Ballengee-Morris (Co-Advisors)

Title:

Humanitarian Visual Culture Curriculum: An Action Research Study

Abstract:

Facing the world situations with an accelerating rate of violence and natural disaster, and living in an interdependent world that is deeply divided politically, economically, and culturally; my dissertation examines the effectiveness of a visual culture curriculum that maximizes the positive educational value of James Nachtwey’s anti-war photography in order to cultivate care ethics that may lead to the promotion of humanitarian education. My position is drawn from five areas: James Nachtwey’s photography, critical social theory, humanitarianism, general education, and art education. James Nachtwey is a renowned photojournalist who identifies himself with the victims. Critical social theories help unravel the political forces acting upon those victims by exposing the symbiotic nature of humanitarianism, colonialism, militarism, and imperialism. Humanitarianism, in context of humanity and human rights, reveals the lack of equity is a political choice. General education helps examine our moral constitution as being co-spectators of far-away suffering. Art education could be a site for civic engagement and world peace by creating a reverential condition to look at atrocious images especially through a social reconstructionist multicultural curriculum. I utilize a critical participatory action research methodology that envisions social transformation in the Third World, relates education to social change, and improves ways of teaching practice. Findings indicate meaningful emotional responses ignited by Nachtwey’s anti-war photography could lead to complex intellectual inquiries and multidimensional moral insights. This study is one of the first to create a humanitarian space in/through art education. A key implication is to bring social justice art education into sharp focus.


Presenter: Sunny Spillane, The Florida State University

Adviser:

Dr. Anniina Suominen Guyas

Title:

Creative Counter-Narratives by Arts Educators in Urban Schools: A Participatory, A/r/tographic Inquiry

Abstract:

This study draws on the shared experiences and perspectives of a diverse group of arts educators in high-poverty urban schools in order to counter pervasive, deficit-based characterizations of their students, schools and communities. Deficit perspectives are the “stock stories” that attribute the disproportionate experiences of school failure among urban students, particularly low income students of color, to their own internal defects of moral character, intellect, culture, or familial socialization. Deficit thinking undermines vital relationships between individual teachers and their students, which may contribute to students’ academic failure. It also masks the role of societal factors, such as under-resourced public schools and systemic discrimination, in placing urban students at risk of school failure. This study uses veteran urban arts educators’ shared personal narratives of teaching to challenge deficit thinking and reframe the dominant societal narratives that inform educational practices and impact educational outcomes.

This study employs a participatory form of a/r/tography, an arts-based framework for conducting educational research that mines the relationships between researchers’ identities/roles as artists, researchers, and teachers through interwoven processes of artmaking and writing. This approach capitalizes on these interconnected roles, and privileges participating teachers’ knowledge by positioning them as artists and researchers in addition to their roles as teachers. A/r/tography is especially suited to this inquiry because it takes participants beyond intellectualizing abstract knowledge about diversity and equity, and facilitates reframing and transforming the narratives we use to understand our practices, our students, our school communities, and ourselves.


Presenter: Jennifer L. Motter, The Pennsylvania State University

Adviser:

Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

Title:

PostSecret Feminist Activism: Politicizing the Personal via Online Interventions

Abstract:

Exploring the theory the personal is political, this critical emancipatory case study seeks to empower women and disrupt virtual world discourses via women's intervention of voice and visibility in informal learning sites: PostSecret, National Art Education Association Women’s Caucus Voices, and study blogs Women’s Experience-based Postcards and Women’s Issue-based Postcards. Using critical emancipatory methodology, I worked with five women who lacked confidence and experience critically using new media to develop strategic online social network participation toward goals of consciousness-raising, (self-)representation, community formation, and agency. Research goals are to develop pedagogical approaches to help disenfranchised women to understand, envision, and change their oppressive situations and build a sense of empowerment by politicizing their personal via online public display of experience-based activist art and critical comment postings. The new media curriculum developed, implemented, and evaluated in this study afforded unveiling of women’s empowering and disempowering experiences, powerful diverse (self-)repesentations, and formation of empathetic and supportive communities, while promoting meaningful artmaking and critical contributions to online discussion threads that led to positive personal, and potentially positive social change. Interpretative qualitative analysis of the strategies inform recommendations of informal learning tactics via new media in order to promote equality in and out of the classroom setting through inclusion of visibility and voice, particularly for those marginalized in society.