Magazine article School Arts

The Art of Making Research. (All Levels)

Magazine article School Arts

The Art of Making Research. (All Levels)

Article excerpt

Among all the things you have considered making in art, have you ever thought about research as an art-like form and process for representing descriptions of the world? For the last two years, I have watched my graduate students craft qualitative research descriptions about how children learn to make and respond to art in classroom settings. These graduate students report that crafting qualitative research is both professionally engaging and feels a lot like the process of making art.

Parallel Processes

Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research does not base its validity on observations of controlled subjects in laboratory settings that can be translated into statistical models to predict future behavior. Instead, qualitative research attempts to give an in-depth description of the experience of a particular group of students, a particular program, or a particular teaching process so that other teachers in the field can gain insight about how or why something works in a particular way.

Case Study and Action Research are two forms of qualitative research that are most adaptable to crafting research in classroom settings. Both have gained scholarly recognition in the field of education in the last decade (Merriman, 2001; Hubbard & Power, 1999). Both also utilize many of the same processes used in making art.

Both the Qualitative Researcher and the Artist:

* generate open-ended questions based on personal interest and experience;

* refine questions based on other scholarship in the field or knowledge of other artists' work;

* claim a point of view based on personal beliefs and values;

* immerse self in a media/research setting with its unique colors, characters, personalities;

* experiment with gathering and interpreting data/images in the field;

* discover emerging patterns and systems of organization;

* interpret emerging insights to bring closure;

* tolerate ambiguity. …

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