A la cArt: a nonlinear model for visual arts education

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Walter, Brendan Ryan
Prater, Michael
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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Given the broad range of potential media, techniques, styles, artists, and ideas which could be covered in an art class, how does a visual arts educator go about teaching content that will be most relevant and valuable to their pupils? An obvious solution is to give students independent choice when deciding their own learning outcomes. When pursuing this goal, however, teachers soon recognize the tension which exists between ideals of student choice and the expectations implicit in traditional educational settings. This paper proposes a model of art teaching which attempts to “bridge the gap” between Discipline-Based and Choice-Based art education philosophies. By making use of twenty-first century educational technology and the power of multimedia instruction, a teacher may provide students choice in what content they learn while still maintaining concrete learning objectives which can be observed and assessed. In this paper, the benefits and limitations of current art education approaches are analyzed and the needs of twenty-first century art learners are discussed before this new model is proposed and justified with research in educational technology, various learning theories, and principles of nonlinear learning. Two variants of this model, one optimized for building skills and the other for promoting creativity, are presented and discussed. These two models were used to create and teach art lessons in an actual high school art classroom, and the resultant projects, outcomes, and experiences are assessed in order to determine conclusions and suggestions for refining their application.