Sunday, October 30, 2011

Becoming a researcher in art education

            This week's reading gave me much to think about in regards to how and what I will research.  After reading the three articles in Freedman’s series Becoming a Researcher in Art Education (Freedman 2003 - 2004) I went back to table 1 in Koro-Ljungberg et all’s, article on (E)pistemological Awareness (Koro-Ljungberg, Yendol-Hoppey, Smith & Hayes, 2009).   I again focused my attention on figuring out where I stood in relation to the decision junctures described there.  I am all over the place.  My two highlighted pages look like bright yellow rhythmic designs over text. 

  With the information I absorbed this week I learned more specifics on what and why I should research.  From Freedman's Becoming a Researcher in Art Education: Forming Research Questions I learned that my research questions need to be clearly stated and realistically answerable.  I need to ask and answer questions that are relevant and significant enough to my field of art education to be worthy of the time and effort required to conduct authentic research (Freedman, 2004).  I began my research formation exploration with the question "How does art curriculum design, based on a single big idea, enhance student learning?"  This is a broad question that has already been answered by a variety of researchers such as Elliot Eisner, Stewart and Walker, Wiggins, and Walling.  I don't want to just restate prior theorizing.  Rather I want to explore more into how curriculum based on a specific big idea enhance student learning and the positive development of a high school student's sense of individual identity.  This leads me to a more narrowing of my research question.  How could a high school multi level art curriculum guide/textbook designed around the single concept of identity enhance student learning?  This then brings up another question.  Are there guides or textbooks on the market now that address the same issue, or that are single themed?

             Will I continue to build the trellis started by Wiggins eta all with basic research or will I go out on a limb and construct new knowledge that will push the boundaries of instruction and learning therefore further advancing the field of arts education? (Freedman, 2004)  I'm going to walk out on a limb that is supported by a strong foundation of previous research.
            I do have more of a pluralist perspective on research and implementation of new knowledge, which is why I found Freedman's article Becoming a Researcher in Art Education: Developing Research Skills (2004) especially helpful in evaluating what research methods I could use.   From this article I recognize that I will need to utilize both empirical and non-empirical methods.  Freedman states that "Empirical research takes many forms that are quantitative and qualitative."  He further explains that some empirical research "emerge from questions about symbolic nature of experience, such as those that lead to case study and ethnographic methods and depend on procedures such as interviews, participant observations and role-play." (Freedman, 2004)  Because "social and cultural conditions have gained importance" (Freedman, 2004), the investigation of a high school curriculum based on identity is a relevant and significant area of research to undertake.

            It's relevance emerges in two of the four categories of the 2007-2011 NAEA Strategic Plan as presented in the 2009 NAEA Research Agenda: Creating a Visual Arts Education Research Agenda for the 21st Century: Encouraging Individual and Collaborative Research.  This article helped me further focus my research goals in that I can see where my research interest fits into the strategic plan. (The categories of Learning and Research and Knowledge)   As the practitioner in the classroom, my role is not only that of the art teacher, but it is also the active researcher.  By conducting active research on the implementation of a yearlong curriculum based on the single big idea of identity, I am able to investigate the difference between a curriculum design and that curriculum's actual implementation.  Last year I wrote a year long course Based on Identity for an Advanced Art Class.  This year I am actually teaching that course.  My use of a research journal will be part of my documentation of the investigation.  This is only a slice of a bigger pie.  The active research of the process of curriculum implementation will serve as my pilot study and work towards my larger research goal of discovering if an Identity curriculum is a needed and useful resource for contemporary high school art teachers.


2009 NAEA Research Agenda: Creating a Visual Arts Education Research Agenda for the 21st Century: Encouraging Individual and Collaborative Research.

Freedman, K. (2003). Editorial: Becoming a researcher in art education: Establishing research goals. Studies in Art Education, 45(1), pp. 3-4. Retrieved from

Freedman, K. (2004). Editorial: Becoming a researcher in art education: Developing research skills. Studies in Art Education, 45(3), pp. 187-188. Retrieved from

Freedman, K. (2004). Editorial: Becoming a researcher in art education: Forming research questions. Studies in Art Education, 45(2), pp. 99-100. Retrieved from

Koro-Ljungberg, M., Yendol-Hoppey, D., Smith, J., & Hayes, S. (2009). E)pistemological awareness, instantiation of methods and uniformed methodolological ambiguity in qualitative research projects. Educational Researcher, 38(9), 687-699. Retrieved from

NAEA Research Commission. (2009). NAEA Research Agenda: Creating a visual art education research agenda for the 21st century: Encouraging individual and collaborative research. Reston, VA: NAEA.

Stewart, M & Walker, S. (2005). Rethinking curriculum in art. Worcester, Massachusetts: Davis Publications, Inc.

Wiggins, R. P., & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design. (2nd ed., pp. 13-34). Prentice Hall.

Zimmerman, E. (1998). A visual arts research agenda toward the twenty-first century. Arts Education Policy Review, 99(5), 30-35. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge.  


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