Teaching for Transfer through Integrated Online and Traditional Art Instruction

By Erickson, Mary | Studies in Art Education, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Teaching for Transfer through Integrated Online and Traditional Art Instruction


Erickson, Mary, Studies in Art Education


This is an exploratory, design-based study of the development and implementation of an online art unit designed to teach for transfer. Secondary art teachers implemented a traditional and then a revised Web version of the unit. Four kinds of knowledge (content, procedural, strategic, and dispositional) provide the structure for reporting: a) teachers' observations of transfer, and b) an analysis of characteristics of Web design that may influence transfer. Anecdotal student data from written pretests and posttests and individual interviews illustrate teachers' observations. Emerging research issues center on prior computer experience, student writing, computer independence, graphic icons, practice, teacher and peer interaction, and features of hybrid online-offline art instruction that increase meaningfulness of art activities for students.

Transfer is what happens when learners are able to recall information and use it appropriately in new situations. Koroscik (1996), Perkins (2001), Erickson (2001, 2002a), Winner and Cooper (2000) propose that teaching for transfer is crucial to the design of effective art programs. Several researchers (Brewer & Colbert, 1992; Erickson, 1997, 2002b; Short, 1998; Tomhave, 1999) have studied the effects of various art programs on students' ability to transfer art learning both within and beyond the art curriculum.

A great many art teachers today use the Internet in a variety of ways as a resource for themselves or as a resource for their students (Koos & Smith-Shank, 1997; Krug, 2002; Lai, 2002: Wongse-Sanit, 1997). Gregory's (1997) anthology presents a wide range of issues that art educators face as new technologies enter the art classroom, such as connectivity and the development of critical thinking; student Internet browsing; innovations in distance education; effects of technology on balanced, healthy communities; and cultural inclusion within interactive technologies. Koroscik (1996) warns, "Although students will have more information at their fingertips than ever before, how that information is handled cognitively by students is a critical question for educators; we already know that student access does not guarantee understanding" (p. 17). Gleeson (1997) and Cason (1998) report on an early effort to design interactive multimedia art history instruction for undergraduate students. Cason (1998) found that "interactive multimedia can serve as an effective tutorial for art history classes" (p. 347).

As art teachers increasingly integrate Web-based instruction with traditional instruction, the complexity of the learning environment increases. How this complexity influences students' ability to transfer what they learn is the focus of this study. The study1 reported here is a cognitive analysis of transfer achieved with a hybrid online-offline program. The purpose of this study is to analyze: a) a multi-year collaborative effort to design curriculum explicitly to teach for transfer, and b) benefits and constraints that secondary art teachers experienced as they integrated Web instruction with traditional art instruction.

Methodology

Exploratory Design-based Research

This study employs an approach proposed by The Design-Based Research Collective (2003), "a group of faculty and researchers founded to examine, improve, and practice design-based research methods in education. The group's members all blend research on learning and the design of educational intervention" (p. 8). Like action research, designbased research involves teachers studying the effectiveness of their efforts to improve instruction (Carroll, 1997; May, 1993). In this study, seven practicing teachers collaborated with the researcher to develop, implement, refine, and evaluate the effectiveness of an instructional intervention. The aim of this study is to go beyond the improvement of instruction in participating schools. Design-based research, like formative evaluation, "uses mixed methods to analyze an intervention's outcomes and refine intervention .

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