Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Research Directions

        In 7 weeks I have filled a 3 inch binder with different interpretations of the "right" research method to utilize for any given topic in art education.  From each method, quantitative and the diversity of qualitative methods, I have seen how I could implement all of them in my research towards creating a curriculum resource.  When I began this class I was sure that I wanted to create a curriculum guide based on identity that could be adopted by high school art teachers.  I have come to realize that is an unrealistic goal for me at this time.  Curriculum design is a living process that requires understanding the learner, learning environment, resources at hand, content knowledge, and local, state and national standards and making something that meets the needs of the teacher and student in their path to constructing knowledge.  No one person can do that.  So what can one person do?

                Art as research and research as art sticks in my brain like a metaphor that art brings to life.  Creating art is all about figuring out what works the best to communicate an idea and then putting those findings to work.  Figuring out what research method to use to do what it is I want to do requires me to know what I want to do.  That "knowing" keeps shifting and I've struggled with it all 7 weeks.  What do I want?  I want to understand.  I want to understand how I can find and utilize resources to make art education relevant to my high school learners.  From the process of developing an understanding I want to share what I have discovered with teachers so that they may not have to "re-invent the wheel" so to say. 

                From my pilot study I realized that many school systems can-not afford to purchase art textbooks for their art classes.  Art teachers are creative by nature so they find their information and lesson ideas through conversations with peers, surfing the net, looking through museum catalogs, participating in workshops and just about everywhere else they travel and then construct their own resources.  But wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to spend so many hours searching for lesson resources or so much money to buy a textbook that is outdated in five years, and that doesn't really relate to your classroom community?  I think so.  What if there was a place where an art teacher could go that could give them multiple options and ideas all based on a single theme, and that are developmentally appropriate?  For high school, what would be the most relevant themes?  What would that place look like?  I want to find that place. 

                In the process of creating art the artist learns what they need to make the artwork successful.  The answer is in the studio.  What do I do?  What do my colleagues do?  What do I use?  What do they use?  What doesn't work?  What can I learn from what doesn't work so that I can do something that does?  Answering these question are the stops along the way to my destination of understanding.  Once I understand then I can create something that does work and that may even help others.  My research will be a narrative of my journey to understanding.  Beyond that understanding will be application of those new understandings in the form of an open access teacher resource for information and lesson ideas for high school teachers working with the theme of identity. 

                The Abstract Expressionists taught me that the process of creating is just as important as the product itself.  From the process of creating we learn and grow.  From studying someone else's process we also learn and grow.  In Design for Inquiry, Instructional Theory, Research and Practice in Art Education (1999) Dr. Delacruz states that "Art teachers' thinking, planning, decision making, and response to the conditions of teaching are important but undervalued aspects of their work" (p.21).  The act of teaching art is not an act at all.  It is a process of learning, reflecting, implementing, assessing and staying current on theory, practice and the culture of their students.  Without these processes, what is presented to students becomes irrelevant to heir world.

                This is why I think my process of constructing the knowledge I need in order to develop an identity resource guide for myself and others is an important topic for further study; for research.    Documenting my processes of inquiry (classroom practice, textbook and web resource investigations, art education literature, and interviews with students and teachers) will take the form of a narrative as the final product of my journey.


Delacruz, E. M. (1999). Design for inquiry, instructional theory research and practice in art education. Reston, VA: The National Art Education Association.

Wirt, S. (2011).Title. (Unpublished pilot study). University of Florida.