Accessing other worlds: engaging art

McColl, Margaret Mary (2020) Accessing other worlds: engaging art. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Although the benefits of learning in and through the arts are well documented, UK arts education in schools is threatened by policy decisions and funding cuts. In demonstrating how children’s aesthetic understanding of art can enhance their cognitive, emotional and social development, this qualitative study explores what happens when a group of upper primary, inner-city school children engage with original artworks over a series of six-monthly visits to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Gallery of Modern Art. The aesthetic, personal, social and physical aspects of contemporary museum learning and practices are explored. Underpinned by relevant theories, engagement with visual arts is linked to cognitive and emotional development. Modelled on Housen’s (1983) freely associating, non-intervening methods, the children were invited to choose artworks to view and comment on for this research project. Data were collected from the research group of nine children. The first data set comprising the children’s comments on their selected art works was organised and analysed according to Parsons’ (1987) table of five stages of aesthetic development. The second data set, from one-to-one, post-visit interviews conducted with each child in the research group, was analysed using Hickman’s (2010) model of the theoretical levels of students' understanding based on abstractedness and/or complexity. Results from both datasets were compared and analysed using an interpretive approach. The analysis was conducted in three stages. Firstly the criteria for Parson’s stages of aesthetic development were applied to the data seeking evidence of emotional and cognitive awareness. Secondly, in response to engagement with art, the children’s responses were aligned with Hickman’s levels of understanding to illuminate awareness of art techniques and media. Thirdly a comparison was made between both sets of results. From discoveries made I considered the possible effects of frequent museum visits on participants’ emotional and aesthetic awareness and their stage of complex understanding in relation to the practice of
art. Findings from this small-scale study demonstrate these ten to eleven year olds perceived and articulated increasingly complex concepts about the aesthetics, ideas and emotions expressed in original works of art in situ. Over the six months of the study, these capacities improved in every child. Results thereby suggest that serial visits to art museum/galleries over time can positively influence aesthetic, cognitive and emotional development. The more regularly children engage with art the more skilful they become in appreciating, producing, and enjoying it. Further research might usefully investigate whether when children engage with original works of art in situ over time they develop aesthetically, cognitively and emotionally.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Art, education, museums, aesthetic, cognitive and emotional development, critical thinking, empowerment, independent learners, museum education, personalisation, primary school art, social development, transformation, Dewey, Housen, Parsons, Hickman, Problem Based Learning, Costantino, Contextual Model, Falk and Dierking.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Hedge, Professor Nicki
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Dr. Margaret McColl
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81787
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2020 14:29
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2022 10:40
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81787

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