Survey of Art Teacher Educators: Qualifications, Identity, and Practice

Article excerpt

A survey conducted in the fall of 2006 on the National Art Education Association Higher Education Listserv yielded rich demographic information about the contexts, preparation, and values of 100 higher education art educator volunteer participants. The academic credentials of art educator participants, along with hiring and promotion practices in higher education, are presented in this descriptive study. Comparisons of art teacher educators' perceptions of their professional identity, the time they invest in their professional activities, and their professional priorities are contrasted with their perceptions of their institutions' values. The issues participants considered most critical to art teacher preparation and future concerns for the field are discussed.

In their review of the state of demographic research in the field of art teacher education, Galbraith and Grauer (2004) argued that "there is much to be learned from examining existing demographic studies" (p. 419) to determine where gaps exist in the research. Zimmerman (1997), Hutchens (1997), Burton (1998), Sevigny (1987), and Davis (1990) all pointed to the need for more demographic research at all levels of art teacher education and practices. Galbraith and Grauer (2004) suggested that demographic inquiry investigates three predominant themes: teacher education programs, preservice and practicing teachers, and teacher educators. A study conducted in the fall of 2006 through the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Higher Education Listserv yielded a wealth of demographic information about the contexts, preparation, and values of 100 art educators in higher education. This article presents and discusses survey data regarding art educators' academic credentials, professional identity, institutional expectations, and the surveyed art educators' most important professional concerns. While descriptive quantitative data provided a framework for discussion, the comment sections of the listserv survey also offered respondents an opportunity to extensively illustrate the contexts in which they teach. The integration of quantitative and qualitative data allowed researchers to sketch a rare professional profile of the art educator in higher education.

Background

In January 2006, a job advertisement from the School of the Art Institute was posted on the NAEA Higher Education Listserv. A posted response to this advertisement, written by Sheri Klein, raised questions about the degree qualifications of art educators at the university/college level; that is, why is an MFA considered as an equal to an EdD or PhD? Subsequent postings followed, and for the next several months, art educator credentials and other related issues were debated by over 60 art educators with over 100 postings. From these discussion postings, there appeared polarized thinking. Many art educators took the position that terminal degrees in art education and teaching experience in K- 12 were of prime importance. Other art educators took the position that there needs to be flexibility in hiring practices; that candidates' expertise were more important than their degrees. The online discussion showed that there was not strong consensus regarding the best credentials for an art teacher educator.

Although the listserv served a useful purpose in gauging the pulse of art educators on this seemingly controversial subject, more data were needed to contextualize the listserv comments and to reveal a more complete portrait of art teacher educators and their professional concerns.

Design of the Study

Many art educators have developed survey instruments to gain demographic data about the field of art education (Anderson, Eisner, & McRorie, 1998; Burton, 1998; Galbraith, 1997/2001; Thompson & Hardiman, 1991; Milbrandt, 2002). We developed an electronic survey, the NAEA Higher Education Demographics, Interests and Needs Assessment (Listserv Survey), to gather data of 48 items from Higher Education Division members about their credentials, practices, and concerns. …