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


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 ... [However] design-based research goes beyond perfecting a product [or program]. The intention of design-based research in education is to inquire broadly and to refine generative and predictive theories of learning" (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003, p. 7). This study uses transfer theory to explore more broadly into the nature of integrated online and traditional art instruction.

The Design-Based Research Collective identifies five characteristics of its approach, which are similar to characteristics of action research. "First, the central goals of designing learning environments and developing theories or 'prototheories' of learning are intertwined" (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003, p. 5). The goals of this study include the design of a learning environment that integrates online and traditional instruction and the identification of research issues to guide the refinement and elaboration of transfer theory. …

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