Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Studio Interior: Investigating Undergraduate Studio Art Teaching and Learning

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Studio Interior: Investigating Undergraduate Studio Art Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

Research of Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Studio Art

In 2010, as part of my doctoral research, I conducted a review of the published literature in undergraduate studio art education. This review revealed that very little scholarly research in the United States has focused on teaching and learning in college studio art classrooms.' Therefore, much of what occurs inside the college studio art classroom-the studio interior-has remained hidden from those not enrolled in, or teaching, a particular class.2 Historically, neither formal research of teaching, nor informal discussion of pedagogical practice, has been part of the post-secondary institutional culture (Bok, 2006; Singerman, 1999).

Some recent conferences and online publications indicate that instructors of undergraduate studio art are beginning to share curricular ideas and pedagogical experiments, though these are few and tend to be anecdotal in nature (See AICAD, 2007; Veon, 2010; also www.foundationsarts.org). In 2011, at the three largest national art education conferences, there were only two presentations about post-secondary studio art pedagogy: one at the National Art Education Association, one during the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and none at the College Art Association (CAA, 2011; NASAD, 2011 ; NAEA, 2011).

Scholarly research of post-secondary studio art pedagogy, while similarly sparse, includes a few relevant studies. The creative development of an undergraduate student new to artmaking, the teaching and learning dynamic of an undergraduate sculpture class, and an interdisciplinary pre-college summer workshop were the focus of studies by art educator Patricia James (1996, 1997, 2000, 2004). Another researcher reported on the development of a group of painting students as they progressed through their 4 years at a prominent U.S. art college (Bekkala, 1999). Two doctoral dissertations, 3 decades apart, focused on the dialogue and critique dynamic found in college studio settings (Kent, 2001; Sevigny, 1977). Most recently, a doctoral student explored the curricular changes taking place in foundation studio art programs in two post-secondary settings (Kushins, 2007). It is my view that these studies-spread out over several decades, conducted in a wide variety of educational contexts, and using various research methodologies-are not sufficient to inform today's college administrators and faculty as they make decisions for the structure and content of 21 st-century studio art curriculum and pedagogy.3 Furthermore, several cultural phenomena suggest an urgent need for research of college studio art teaching and learning: the emerging importance of creativity, the changes and challenges confronting higher education, and the debate about the content and delivery of an undergraduate studio art education.

Why Research Is Needed Now Emerging Importance of Creativity

In the last 10 years, scholars of creativity, researchers in art education, and contemporary artists, aware of the visual and technological changes taking place in our society, have pondered the meaning of being creative in the new millennium, especially as it may differ from conceptions of creativity in the last century, and affect policy in the current one (Freedman, 2007; Zimmerman, 2009).

In the 21 st century, it is apparent that students need to be prepared for a new information age and that educational interventions... that foster creative thinking, imagination, and innovation are important for generating solutions to real life problems both now and in the future. Creativity in the visual arts can no longer be aligned only with conceptions about creative self-expression. Researchers and practitioners need to conceive of creativity as multidimensional with consideration of how cognitive complexity, affective intensity, technical skills, and interest and motivation all play major roles. (Zimmerman, 2009, p. 394)

Teachers and researchers in K-12 art education have articulated the dispositions of creative thinkers: taking risks, being passionate, having self-discipline, being open and flexible, and understanding multiple points of view (Burton, 2005, 2009; Eisner, 2002; Hetland, Winner, Veenema, & Sheridan, 2007; James, 1996, 1997; Zimmerman, 2009); the conditions conducive to developing artistic dispositions in learners, such as exploration, play, and dialogue (Burton, 2000, 2005, 2009; Eisner, 2002; Gude, 2010; Hetland et al. …

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