Language as a potential means of increasing the preceptual art ability of elementary school children

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Bullock, Ray E., 1930-
Reeves, Daniel J.
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The purpose of this investigation was to develop instructional methods to affect the visual perceptual abilities of young children.Eleanor Gibson has described visual perception as the process by which we obtain firsthand information about the world around us. According to Gibson visual perception is a complex process of handling a multitude of visual bits of information or cues, so that a response to the information can be made. With these ideas in mind a series of language tasks were developed to encourage children to attend and respond to visual stimuli in order to investigate the extent to which language may modify or enhance visual perceptual ability.The sample for this study was comprised of ninety-four fourth grade students in four intact classes in the Eastbrook Community School Corporation, Marion, Indiana. Three groups were randomly assigned to the experimental treatments and one to the control condition. One group received in-process language training while viewing and discussing color slides of paintings; a second group received language training by exposure to semantic differential scales while viewing the same paintings; a third group received a condensed and integrated version of the treatment received by the other two experimental treatment groups;while a fourth group served as a control section and received traditional art instruction, primarily working with common art materials without specific language instruction and without viewing color slides of paintings. The subjects in all four groups were pre and post tested using the Children's Embedded Figures Test (CEFT), the MotorFree Visual Perception Test (IrwPT) and the vocabulary subtest of the Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test (SDRT).Data collected during this investigation was subjected to analysis of covariance techniques and, when significant ratios were obtained, follow-up t-tests were conducted. In addition, correlation coefficients were obtained to evaluate possible relationships between the three sets of measures. The confidence level for testing the null hypotheses was set at an alpha of .05. Review of the data led to the following conclusions:(A) Subjects receiving a condensed and integrated version of the language treatment including in-process verbalization and exposure to semantic differential scales while viewing color slides of paintings achieved significantly higher Children's Embedded Figures Test scores than subjects in the Control Group. The resulting data indicated that treatment incorporating language training tasks was more successful in affecting perceptual performance than traditional art activities.(B) Data analysis of treatment effects on subject performance as measured by the Motor-Free Visual Perception Test was found to be inconclusive. The statistical evidence indicates that although scores achieved by the three experimental groups on the WPT did increase they were not significantly improved.(C) Group performance on the vocabulary subtest of the Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test remained virtually unchanged. The abundance of verbal stimulation had no apparent effect upon language skills as measured by this instrument.This investigation made no attempt to prescribe how subjects should respond to visual stimuli, nor did it infer that these responses were either desirable or inalterable. At the same time this investigation made no attempt to assess the aesthetic effects of languagethat the inclusion of language tasks may stimulate and increase perceptual activity and ability thereby aiding children in developing perceptual skills.The most important general finding in this investigation is the facilitating effect of the combination of semantic differential scales and auditory verbal in-process response as a mode of instruction to increase visual perceptual ability. This combination of language factors evidently influenced the subjects to process pictorial information more effectively, perhaps by directing their attention to the distinctive features of the paintings.