Choice-based art & design thinking : exploring the value of integrating these approaches in 21st century art education


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Choice-based art & design thinking : exploring the value of integrating these approaches in 21st century art education
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Project in lieu of thesis
Dahlheimer, Kim
College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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The purpose of my research was to discover what happens in a fourth grade classroom when I create and implement a curriculum unit that fuses choice-based art education and design thinking process. I am particularly interested in fostering the creativity of my students. This paper describes how I did this, and what happened in my classroom. I also created a website ( that houses resources and student examples of this approach. Design thinking is a human-centered process developed for approaching problems and opportunities with multiple stages that are said by it’s proponents to lead to creative, innovative solutions (IDEO, 2012). Choice-based education is an approach in which students are given multiple avenues to learn and demonstrate what they know and are able to do (Douglas & Jaquith, 2009). Together, I believe that these two approaches will foster creativity in students as they endeavor to become innovative, entrepreneurial thinkers in the 21st century. Utilizing an action research approach that includes observations of classroom activities, weekly journaling, taking and analyzing photographs of student work, analysis of written reflections from my students and myself, and informal interviews with students, I have both fine-tuned and studied strategies for organizing and facilitating these two approaches (choice-based art education and design thinking) in my curriculum. Although mine was a small study (short in duration and taking place with only one class), I want art educators to understand the benefits of fusing design thinking as a creative process for students within a choice based educational environment.
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Art Education terminal project

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2 2012 Kim Dahlh e imer


3 To My FABULOUS Family


4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my Supervisory Committee: Elizabeth Delacruz and Leslie Gates for all their time and effort in guiding and coaching me through my journey in creating this project in lieu of thesis. Thanks to my Mom, Mary w ho has always supported my a rt and inspired me with love and perseverance, and to my husband, Mike and son, Zak who have supported me throughout my graduate experience with humor and love




6 ABS TRACT OF CAPSTONE PROJECT PRESENTED TO THE COL LEGE OF FINE ARTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF F LORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLME NT OF THE REQUIREMEN TS FOR THE MASTER OF ARTS CHOICE BASED ART AND DESIGN THINKING: EX PLORING THE VALUE OF INTEGRATING THESE A PPROACHES IN 21 ST CENTURY ART EDUCATI ON By Kim Dahlheimer April 2012 Chair : Dr. Elizabeth M. Delacruz Committee member : Dr. Leslie Gates Major: Art Education Abstract The purpose of my research was to discover what happens in a fourth grade classroom when I create and implement a curriculum unit that fuses choice based art education and design thinking


7 process. I am particularly interested in fostering the creativity of my students. This paper describes how I did this, and what happened in my classroom. I also created a website ( ) that houses re sources and student examples of this approach. Design thinking is a human centered process developed for approaching problems and opportunities with multiple stages that are said by it's proponents to lead to creative, innovative solutions (IDEO, 2012). Ch oice based education is an approach in which students are given multiple avenues to learn and demonstrate what they know and are able to do (Douglas & Jaquith, 2009). Together, I believe that these two approaches will foster creativity in students as they endeavor to become innovative, entrepreneurial thinkers in the 21 st century. Utilizing an action research approach that includes observations of classroom activities, weekly journaling, taking and analyzing photographs of student work, analysis of written reflections from my students and myself, and informal interviews with students, I have both fine tuned and studied strategie s for organizing and facilitating these two approaches (choice based art education and design thin king) in my curriculum. Although m ine was a small study (short in duration and taking place with only one class), I want art educators to understand the benefits of fusing design thinking as a creative process for students within a choice based educational environment.


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION My study examined how a choice based art environment and a design thinking process both work ed together to facilitate students' development as creative thinkers for the 21 st century. My research project describes strategies I employed for inte grating design thinking and choice based art. In my project, I provided my students with art lessons that were based on choice based and design thinking approaches to help my students build confidence in their art making choices, and to engage them in the design thinking process for seeking innovative solutions. I created a website with resources and links focusing on design thinking and choice based art education. I hope that my study and accompanying resources will encourage other art educators to take a closer look at both of these pedagogical approaches. Problem Statement This research project identified and described strategies for fusing and implementing a choice based art educational environment with a design thinking process. The research paper and website describe some of the ways in which students are engaged and focused on relevant artmaking, and ways that students engage in artmaking through creative collaboration (an important aspect of design thinking, as will be discussed later in this paper). Through an analysis of students' artistic activities, productions, and reflections I have described how my students used the design thinking process in my lessons, and how the process facilitated their creativity. Gude (2010) suggests that a quality creat ivity oriented curriculum stimulates free ideation, encourages experimental approaches in artmaking, and manifests relevant, personal experiences. Robinson (2011) assures that creativity is in everyone. Creativity is about focusing on concepts and projects for making them into the best they can be, and understanding why they are valuable.


9 Gardner (1993) maintains that creative persons can solve problems, and create new products. Pink (2009) notes how intrinsic motivation contributes to creativity and drives artistic behavior. Research Questions The following research questions shaped my inquiry: 1. How can a choice based art environment and design thinking process develop creative, entrepreneur ial thinkers for the 21 st century? 2. How might a choice based art env ironment and design thinking process support creative activity and expression in art students? 3. How will engaging students in the design thinking process in a choice based art environment influence the relevance and/or meaning of their artmaking practice? Definitions of Terms Choice based art education is an approach that considers students as artists and offers them opportunities for making their own choices responding to their ideas and interests ( TAB, 2012 ). Design thinking is a human centered process for learning how to find better creative solutions to problems or issues through a process (IDEO, 2012).


10 Methodology My research investigated what happened in a fourth grade art program that incorporated choice based and design thinking. I enacted the cycle of action research through collecting weekly data of observations (photographs, reflections, journaling), analyzing, planning and acting upon it to enhance the direction of my art curriculum. As art educator, Elizabeth Delacruz (in press) suggests, m y position as both the designer/teacher of the program and as the researcher studying the program I created was to examine how and how well these two pedagogical approaches worked together Chapter three has additional information about my methodology. Lim itations My r esearch questions focused on how the integration of a choice based environment and a design thinking process foster ed creativity. I believe that these approaches facilitate the development of creative confidence in students for the future. I w ill describe creative behaviors that students demonstrated as a result of being engaged in choice based and design thinking oriented lessons, but measuring or comparing student creativity before and after my educational interventions is beyond the scope of this study, My study is also limited in terms of generalizability because it was a small study with a group of fourth grade art students in a weekly forty five minute art class over a five week period. Significance Choice based art education and d esign thinking when implemented together will build students creative confidence and develop creative thinkers for the 21 st century (RED lab, 2012) Additionally, including design thinking in a choice based environment will help teachers to attend to im portant aspects of their lesson plans, including but not limited to the big ideas that


11 shape their lessons. Creativity has been in the public spotlight as a needed ingredient to help students develop into innovative, creative thinkers for the 21 st century. As observed by the popular, motivational speaker, Sir Kenneth Robinson (2009), students have been overloaded with academic learning, rote memory learning and academic testing which has slowly deterred their creativity. A problem Robinson notes is the lack of creative confidence in students. Indeed, studies of creativity have surfaced in journals, books, lectures and presentations, with the primary goals of building and nurturing creativity as a component of community economic development for the future (Fl orida, 2004). Bequette and Bequette claimed in a recent article, "Teaching design in art classrooms is as much as the business of art education as teaching the artistic/creative process" (2012, p. 40). Being an art educator, my awareness is always directed to exploring new ways for sparking creativity in students and engaging them in relevant, meaningful art making. I believe that students who understand the process of design thinking and who implement it within a choice based educational environment will b uild creative confidence.


12 CHAPTER 2 L ITERATURE REVIEW Considerable research in art education focuses on a variety of perspectives that are needed for engaging students in relevant, meaningful artmaking and for incubating entrepreneurial, creative thinkers for the 21 st century. Approaches abound around this topic. Two such approaches were the subject of my inquiry: design thinking and choice based education. Design thinking is rapidly gaining recognition as a desirable approach for 21 st century learning, while choice based art education is becoming popular for implementing creativity throughout the United States (Brown, 2011). Design thinking is a human centered process transforming the way you create sol utions for problems (Stanford University, 2012). Choice based education offers students choices in the ways they demonstrate what they know and are able to do, and allows students to think, behave and perform like artists (Hathaway, 2008). T hrough my resea rch, I hoped to show how I meshed both approaches together to foster creativity. Choice based Art Curriculum Choice based art curriculum, which was introduced during 1970's and derived from a few traits of Reggio Emilia and Montessori, focuses on students being independent in their choices for artmaking within a carefully organized studio. Students collaborate, tutor each other, and master media. In a choice based program of study, Rufo (2011) suggests that students who make their own choices become artist s. In choice based education, students control the choice of materials, subject matter and process. In an art class, a choice based studio invites students' curiosities as they look, examine, discover, and create using critical thinking and problem


13 solving in their art making. By letting students have the freedom to choose, the artmaking becomes relevant, personal and meaningful to them (Rufo, 2011). Designing a choice based learning environment takes thorough planning of the artroom. The planning involve s changing the artroom to a choice based studio with various learning centers that are organized in different locations in the art room. The centers should be strategically placed near designated supplies for students to access easily. These studio learnin g centers are equipped with visual references, list of tools, and simple written directions for learning resources, and supplies. The organization of materials will help students take on the responsibility of setting up and cleaning the learning centers/ studios (Douglas, 2007). Once at a particular center of their choosing, students begin with entry level skills and materials available at the center. The first few things that a student needs to learn at any center include: 1) this is what you find here (m aterials and resources), 2) here are some basic ways to use these materials and resources (media and processes), and 3) this is how you take care of these materials and put them away for the next student (care and respect for the learning center). In the b eginning, studio techniques and materials are entry level, and the educator has responsibility to monitor the success or failure of the 1, 2, 3 process for each student. Students use open centers one at a time and students earn the privilege of advancing t o each new center with successful completion of steps 1, 2, and 3 at previous centers. The speed that teachers open new learning centers will depend mainly on what teachers observe in terms of student progress. Teachers may also spiral back and add more co mplexity to each center as students gain knowledge and skills. Requirements for each center will depend on the age of the students and the general goals teachers establish. These goals are relatively open ended. Centers should remain generic media


14 based ra ther than simply supporting a teacher's pre designed project, which undermines the whole point of choice Choice based classes typically begin with the art teacher giving five minute demonstrations for students regarding how to use the centers and how to work with materials. Demonstrations are especially helpful for those students who need more structure, but the assumption is still that they also have the freedom to create whatever they want. The teacher may conduct small group demonstrations as well All owing interaction with peers in open learning centers creates an exceptional environment that fosters student creativity (Douglas & Jaquith, 2009). In assessing student quality of work and progress, and for improving student learning, art teachers would u se both formative and summative evaluation methods, observing students' as they work at centers, and evaluating the quality of their finished work. Teaching for Artistic Behavior is a grassroots organization that supports choice based art education. The ph ilosophy behind teaching for artistic behavior and its instructional methodology is the students' freedom of choice According to proponents of this approach, Creativity abounds when a student thinks divergently, ponders, intuits, perceives, infers, plays makes mistakes and embraces ambiguity. Creativity in school programs thrives when learners are intrinsically motivated and have full autonomy to problem find and solve, defer, revise, redirect, and work at their own pace. (Jaquith, 2011, p. 19) This und erstanding about the importance of intrinsic motivation is also observed by well known author and journalist, Daniel Pink (2009) who describes how intrinsic motivation contributes to creativity and drives artistic behavior.


15 TAB is structured through four basic educational practices: conceptualizing students as artists, pedagogy, classroom context, and assessment. Envisioning students as artists encourages them to work at their own pace, to create independently, and to collaborate with their peers. By havin g control over their own work, students' artmaking will improve and become more relevant and meaningful (Jaquith, 2011). In this approach, art teachers would utilize diverse individualized teaching and learning strategies depending on the needs of the stud ent. They would facilitate, demonstrate, provide and tweak content derived from observations of specific students. Teachers would also encourage students to coach each other and offer their expertise learned from their art experiences in the open learning centers. Students should have a tremendous resource of visual references at these centers, references that reflect and inform student interests. The classroom is structured for brief demonstrations and fast, efficient cleanup; centers are arranged for ease of use and predictability; and well organized materials are available with directions at each center. Assessment is ongoing through teachers' observances of student progress. These observations help the teacher redirect learning and to revise and further develop new curriculum. Teachers encourage students to engage with artistic ideas and processes, and they interact with students with open ended questions and suggestions. Students may use self assessment strategies such as journals, sharing sessions, and online portfolios to demonstrate learning, and to build confidence as they see their own creative progress. If space is available in the art studio; an evolving student gallery is a great aspect to add to a classroom geared toward a choice based TAB appro ach. Students are responsible for choosing their art for exhibition and for creating the arrangement of the exhibit. Each student's artwork entails a brief reflection on a small index size card.


16 The most important aspect of choice based learning is creatin g a well planned environment for differentiated student learning styles and artistic behaviors (Douglas & Jaquith, 2009). The focus is on the arrangement of centers with regard to supplies, tools, materials and directions. Basic studio areas to start with at learning centers may include painting, drawing, collage and sculpture ( The Knowledge Loom 2012). Other studio processes can be added such as clay and printmaking. In my classroom, I have surveyed students in advance to determine their interests regardi ng what studios they would do in the centers. Based on these surveys, I have provided menus, resources and directions for students at each center. Directions illustrate sequenced steps in a particular process, technique, or style. These resources also incl ude information about artists that inform the studio area. The learning that takes place in a choice based classroom is an unending, evolving process that emanates from students' work facilitated by teachers' advice and coaching. Design Thinking Design Thinking is an approach to learning various methods for processing an innovative, creative solution. The design thinking approach evolved in the 1980s from David Kelley at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (Stanford Social In novation Review, 2010). For the purpose of my study, I used the five mode Design Thinking model (a variation from the original six modes) from their "design thinking boot camp bootleg toolkit" for K 12. (Dschool of Stanford, 2012). By using design thinkin g as the basis for learning, the idea is that "students will develop the ability to think critically, empowering them to become effective leaders, regardless of what career paths they choose" (IDEO, 2009). With open ended challenges, students build confide nce in finding innovative solutions through experiencing design thinking's five modes and methods: empathize define ideate prototype and test (See


17 Figure 1.) First, students are confronted with a challenge, a problem to solve or something to which the y are to create a solution. They may improve something already in existence or create an entirely new solution to a problem. The empathize mode is human centered and engages students to observe, interact and experience to better understand the problem. The define mode narrows the focus from students' understanding what needs were found in the empathize mode. The ideate mode is the process of forming many ideas and incorporates divergent thinking, play, innovation and brainstorming for creating the next mod e involving prototypes. The prototype mode is creating your solution into a physical form. Prototypes are usually quickly achieved and can be a rough sketch, an object, a performance, or a storyboard; the possibilities are limitless depending on the fabric ation and time involved. In the classroom, the prototypes are successful when students can interact with them and gain feedback from peers in the testing mode. Testing allows students to refine and make the solution better. I believe embracing mistakes is an important focus for learning, as students rework a prototype. Just as Twyla Tharp (2003) distinguishes mistakes in her creative habit as "Failing and learning from it, is necessary. Until you've done it, you're missing an important piece of your creativ e arsenal" (p. 226), I believe that my students learn from their mistakes. The entire design thinking process can be repeated again and again for finding the best solution. Educators initiate the design thinking process with a challenge either to a group of students or to a single student. Educators can modify the methods according to different age groups of students. Students will build their knowledge from the process as they engage and understand the design thinking methods of how to explore opportuniti es and problems for finding the best, innovative solution


18 Figure 1 Five Modes of Design Thinking from Dschool Hasso Plattner, Institute of Design at Stanford


19 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY My study utilized a n action research methodology in order to investigate what happened in a fourth grade art program that incorporated choice based and design thinking oriented art lessons. This study took place in a private school serving students from K 8, located in the So utheastern part of the United States. The study focused on two fourth grade art classes with a total of thirty four students (from various cultural backgrounds). The study took place weekly in the artroom during a forty five minute period. Students created various art projects implementing design thinking process and in a choice based environment. The duration of the study was five weeks. The purpose of the study was to understand if the fusion of design thinking process and choice based environment would f oster creativity. My research questions focused on what happened when I fused a choice based studio environment with design thinking process. My study was aimed for a deeper understanding of both pedagogies as I enacted weekly changes for improving the di rection of my art curriculum. I utilized an action research method, a method highly appropriate for teachers and other practitioners, for analyzing my data and acting upon it (May, 1993). According to art educator Elizabeth Delacruz (in press), action rese arch is conducted in social settings with intact groups of people, often carried out by the professional practitioner responsible for the development and or delivery of services to these groups rather than solely by an outside expert. In action research, t he researcher (who is often times also the individual responsible for the program or service being researched) utilizes direct observation, interviews, surveys, and document analysis to find out how and/or how well particular programs are working (Delacruz in press).


20 Data sources for my research included photographs of classrooms, instructional materials, student artwork (in progress and finished), students' reflections, informal interviews and conversations with students, and my journal observations and reflections. Weekly, I analyzed these varying forms of data, adapting my curriculum to meet the needs and interests of the students for the following week. I made evaluations about the success or limitations of my curricular approaches and teaching strateg ies. My main focus was on the students' behaviors as they evolved from a modified choice to a full choice curriculum over the course of five weeks. I implemented a design thinking challenge for the first week, which was considered a modified choice on "Th e Continuum of Choice based Learning and Teaching" which I found on the TAB website. I documented student collaboration, student artmaking development of prototypes, feedback from students and students' reflections about their work (Waters Adams, 2006). During each class session I observed students and listened as they engaged in their artmaking; and then I reflected and proceeded in planning and acting upon the process to enhance their art experience for building creative confidence (Dick, 1999). Influe nced from art educators Bartel (2011) and Bates' (2000) varied details on creative behaviors, I created a hand drawn chart with a list exhibiting creative behaviors and experiences. I utilized this chart throughout the duration of each weekly class to help answer my research questions. The categories helped me decipher the behaviors and creative experiences of the students. The chart also allowed me to document notes in the classroom quickly, not to interrupt the students' artmaking and I could keep circula ting the creative environment. My fourth grade classes took place at the end of my workday, which allowed me to document my observations immediately after each class ended and to focus on the actions or modifications that I would implement into next wee k's class. I found that my modifications


21 involved greater organization of materials and tools at centers (as suggested by a student), time management modifications, and further exploring various degrees on "The C ontinuum of C hoice based L earning and T eachi ng ". At the beginning of each class, I made sure that I kept introductions to artists, lessons and techniques brief, making sure all my resources were in good order for a quick, five minute presentation. After listening to students and observing what they might possibly need as materials, I created more organized spaces, including labeling boxes and drawers and filling them with popular sought after materials. I must admit, my first week's lesson was a modified choice, because I implemented a design thinkin g challenge and the students chose the content and medium. The following weeks I planned and implemented full choices for students to take control of their creative artmaking. Chapter 4 further shares what stood out as important in this research and curric ulum development project.


22 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS In my mission for finding answers to my research questions, I utilized my weekly action research cycles of planning, acting, observing and reflecting upon enhancing my art curriculum in an attempt to integrate design thinking process and choice based art e ducation to foster creativity. Before starting my study, I submitted and collected all the necessary IRB forms (see Appendix ) and obtained permission from my school to conduct this study, as required by the University of Florida. The following four section s will detail my process of setting up my choice base art environment, what the students did, what I did, and my thoughts as the curriculum unfolded. The Process Informing my administration about my study and the direction that I was going with the art curriculum was first on my agenda. My enthusiasm was great and the principal of my school asked me to present choice based learning and design thinking to the entire faculty. In setting up my choice based learning environment and before my study began, my first strategy was also to inform and excite students about the transformation of their art room into an open center art studio for K 8 students during the last week in January. Next, I presented the choice based model to students and discussed various aspects of the model such as studio centers, demonstrations, meaningful artmaking, creativity, introductions, their responsibilities, and challenges. I also explained t hat sometimes the themes we were going to explore might be integrated with their other academic subjects (thereby making this a modified choice learning environment, rather than completely open choice). I circulated a piece of paper to each student to writ e down what studio they would be interested in. I visually announced this change in curricular approach


23 within my classroom to my school community with a sign on my door that read "Art Studio I placed a center suggestion basket in the room equipped with paper and pencils for students to further share ideas and suggestions for studio centers that would inform me of changes the students would like to see implemented in the art studio. I started making menus exhibiting information about resource artists, art style examples, sequenced instructions ( how tos ), information about design principles (emanating from the state learning standards), resources, and organized art supplies; and I slipped each menu into a plastic sleeve for durability. I drew up a rough pla n of where I would strategically place studio centers such that they were easily accessible for the students to independently find what they needed. Organization and labeling is a very important perspective when designing your layout of your centers and st udios (Hetland, Winner, Veenema, & Sheridan, 2007). I set up the studio center tables with basic supplies to acquaint and acclimate the students to the designated studio centers (see Figure 2). I created a lesson plan for the first two weeks based on a des ign thinking challenge and I introduced a contemporary artist who I believed made a difference in the world with his creativity and art. After reviewing the TAB "Continuum of Choice Based Learning and Teaching I learned that I actually had changed my cu rriculum from "choice based" to "modified choice" because I chose the content to be explored at the learning centers (TAB, 2011). Knowing that I had created a modified choice environment I kept in mind that the following weeks would provide opportunities for students to assume full choice of their approach, content and media. The Students Over five weeks, my fourth grade students were immersed in the process of design thinking and modified choice based studio centers. During the first week, learning objec tives were focused on the big idea "How can artists make a difference in the world?" and the process of


24 design thinking. They were introduced to the art works of Vik Muniz as an example of a contemporary artist whose artistic works are aimed at making a difference in the world. Students watched how Muniz observed a problem in his home country (Brazil) and developed a solution Figure 2 Choice based drawing studio center with basic supplies


25 in collaboration and discussion with the p eople of his country. Vik Muniz's video "Wasteland" showed the students how he collaborated with poor garbage workers in Rio de Janeiro in his hometown community to build and photograph art derived from their culture. His art forms included portraits of th e workers created from garbage ( ). By selling the photographs of the garbage installations at a New York gallery auction, Muniz's work improved the economic status of the poor garbage workers. My students attentively watched and were amazed by the art created from garbage. Next I introduced the con cept of how Muniz observed an opportunity to help Japan rebuild from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. He developed the global Paper Crane Challenge Poster to help Japan ( ). This challenge solicited a donation of two dollars for each of two million student folded paper cranes. Muniz invited students to his Brooklyn studio to create a colossal Peace Crane installation from sixty thousand peace cranes taken from his original "Student's Rebuild" project. Then Muniz photographed the installation and created a poster to sell, with all the proceeds benefiting Japan's victims. Students discussed how their art had a global voice for peace in the "Pinwheels for Peace" project ( ). Studen ts really wanted to learn how to fold the peace cranes, and so my lesson plan opened up and we folded peace cranes and discussed more about making a difference and Muniz's art. The following week, students were given a design thinking challenge (using an issue of their own choice) focus ed on visually creating a caring community on the school's campus Students thought about what a caring community meant to them and then created a wall of post its containing their thoughts and cares (see Figure 3). The stud ents discussed both similar and different meanings found in these post it messages. They then divided into groups and explored


26 the school campus searching for an area to create a visual installation of their own. Looking at walls of the school building, some of the students remarked "too many windows "we need a big wall and "those things will get in the way" ( in reference to the guttering and pipes on the wall ) Once the students identified a suitable space, o ne student sketched the wall on paper, since each group was equipped with a clipboard, paper and pencil. They empathized, as they discussed their thoughts on bullying and car ing. They collaborated, brainstormed and created prototypes for their installation, which were rough sketches for a wall mural. I asked open ended questions Figure 3. Design thinking and choice based student artists' wall of post it note s


27 on what kind of behaviors were needed to have a successful brainstorming session. I received answer s about listening and I emphasized how important it is to listen to others' opinions even if you disagree with them. Brainstorming was a time to explore lots of different ideas. Finally the groups circulated around the art room to view each group's sketche s, and they left feedback to each group on a post it notes (see Figure 4). Drawing and painting studio centers were available throughout this process. Collaborating on idea development was initially hard for a few students, because they wanted to work inde pendently and/or have complete control of the project. The rest of the students were excited and engaged in finding the best solution. By the third, fourth and fifth week of this program, students had complete artistic freedom regarding the content and me dium of their project. Four studios were opened by the end of the fourth week. These studios included drawing, painting, collage and 3D. At the beginning of classes during this time, they watched and asked questions during my five minute demonstrations and introductions to contemporary artists, techniques, styles and themes. Afterwards, students retrieved their supplies, engaged in artmaking, and cleaned up on their own. Students also began sharing techniques with each other. They were asking for feedback f rom their peers. A few artists created rough sketches (a strategy they had learned from the design thinking process). They explored and experimented with various mediums. They transposed their original ideas into artworks that held personal meaning. Some s tudents worked in groups and


28 Others worked independently. They freely engaged in conversations about their work and wrote reflections. During the fifth week, student artists were starting to complete artworks and write reflections. They were excited as they shared stories of their narrative artwor ks. One student artist had worked from a rough sketch and she created a 3D mixed media work of an innovative caring habitat for animals. Another artist created a relief mixed media work about his identity with interactive flaps that opened to surprise you with symbols defining his family members, hobbies, favorite foods and house. Another artist had studied the proportional portrait menu, using a mirror, she created a rough sketch to work out her proportions (I coached her on looking Figure 4. Student artist group's p rototype is rough sketch with peers' feedback


29 at details) and then pa inted her portrait on a larger size paper, used a paper punch for holes and weaved several pipe cleaners through her hair. She asked me later if she could make a book and add it to her portrait. I asked her why, and she explained how she liked to read and she was going to write a book about herself. I pointed and explained the identity symbolism in Frida Kahlo's portrait on the wall; and I told her idea was fabulous because it came from her heart and that made it meaningful and wonderful. Another artist des igned boat to collect the garbage from cruise ships while another artists designed a game for recycling. Everyone was working at their own pace, engaged and enjoyed their access to materials and processes. "Yay! It's like having free draw!" remarked one st udent. Some students were still reluctant to start immediately after they entered the studio and continued to ask, "May we start now?" My Actions Throughout this program, I introduced techniques, themes, styles and artists to the students at the beginning of each class within five minutes. It was hard limiting myself and the students' discussion to five minutes. These mini lessons were flexible and adapted from observing students behaviors, listening to their feedback regarding needs, and the other data I had gathered and analyzed as the weeks evolved. I wanted to use contemporary artist s to connect students to the art curriculum. I created menus and posters for learning techniques and skills. Weekly, I listed brief lesson outlines, clean up times and atta ched lesson references to blackboard. I circulated from center to center, assessing the engagement of the student artists, and offering coaching through open ended questions to some, "What if you? and "How could you?" I also gave affirmations and qualita tive feedback ; sprinkling in elements or principles of art here and there to their work, and associating their work to various art styles and artists I listen ed closely to their questions, concerns, and conversations, and I observed their artmaking. I


30 ga ve one on one and group demonstrations. I was able to work with struggling students by breaking down the tasks or through concept mapping with them. I encouraged the students to ask me if they need something they might not find in the existing materials or supplies. I labeled the drying rack and organized spaces with each class number for students to place their artwork. It was my duty to alert them about cleanup times at ten minutes (for those really messy artists) and five minutes. It was wonderful to wat ch, as students worked and helped one another in a collaborative effort during cleanup. The art studio had become an energetic and engaging creative environment. I wrote in my journal about my observations during and after each class. I photographed and a nalyzed students' in process artmaking and their completed art with reflections (see Figures 5 and 6) I videotaped several students and recorded students' remarks regarding the art that they created. I just wished that I had an area to display all of thei r work. With the yearly spring concert and art show coming up in April, I did want them to choose their work for the show. Overall, the experience of my study was truly amazing as I observed their voices were coming to life and taking various directions in their choices in content and media for creating art.


31 Figure 5 Student artists engaged in artmaking in choice based


32 Figure 6. Student artist's finished artwork with written reflection


33 CHAPTER 5 FINAL THOUGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS When I first started reading and learning about choice based art learning, I pictured this chaotic unstructured artmaking environment. I have really changed my mind after experiencing the amazing creative energy of the students taking full possession of their artmaking. Based on my experience, I think this approach is important for art educators to consider As I implemente d this approach, I did not want to overwhelm the students with too many details in the presentations ; details that might inhibit their originality or meaning of their artmaking (Bryant, 2010). I did not mention grades for fear to disrupt the intrinsic moti vation. I assessed their behaviors, artmaking and reflections. Adapted from students' behaviors and reflections. I needed to remain flexible with implementing lessons at the beginning of classes, and my presentations and demonstrations on artists, themes, styles, and techniques needed to be quick. I wanted more time for their artmaking. I will continue to study a possibility of sequencing as I look for patterns in time used. I found that the open structured learning environment gave me more time to respond to students individually (especially reaching out to struggling students) and in small groups. During the school year, my students had already experienced design thinking challenges in several art lessons ; so I believe initiating it again in my study helped renew the process for the students. I did discover and question the similarities in design thinking modes and the eight studio habits of mind (Hetland, Vinnwer, Veenema, & Sheridan, 2007), which refers to dispositions of the mind, (observation, envisioning, reflecting, expressing, exploring, engaging, persisting and understanding). I found the similarities connect ed to the kinds of thinking that students use in their dail y life. Letting students take on the role of the artis t empowered them to


34 tutor and collaborate with their peers and exemplify in creative problem solving. I am convinced from my analysis of students' behaviors storytelling and innovative artworks that cr eative confidence grows strong when the student s challenge themselves with their choices in artmaking. The student's art becomes more relevant and purposeful when the student connects their artmaking process to his or her personal interests. From their rem arks reflections, and prototypes, I also believe that the design thinking process gave them new perspectives for understanding how to solve problems or look for opportunities for change with issues or products that they initiated. Always needing to be pr epared for classes was key so students could engage in their artmaking, I had to organize materials, find resources and create menus weekly during planning periods and after school. Students are now requesting new studios; and I will order supplies accordi ngly for next year create more menus for instructions and design more organizational spaces for supplies The studio centers will allow me to purchase better quality because of smaller quantities needed. Using my school's curriculum map, I will implement modified choice when integrating art with academic subjects. I believe that my redesigned art program parameters will easily address state standards. Over the summer, I will build additional resources for addressing enduring ideas structured with engagemen t with contemporary artists, styles, and themes, and with social, cultural and global issues. I would also like to find a space in my school to exhibit art chosen by the students' classes on a regular basis. Also, next year, I plan on creating an online ga llery on the school's website for students to place their artwork and reflections for the world to see. On the down side, I believe starting a choice based approach in the middle of the year created a weak beginning for my choice based curriculum (for bot h the students and me).


35 Beginning the school year with such an approach is my suggestion for future organizing and planning a successful creative environment Art e ducator Flavia Bastos (2011) astutely observed, "It is critical that we engage in discussio n of how to fuse classrooms with a more legitimate pedagogy that nurtures and promotes core dimensions of the arts, such as creativity, innovation, and imagination" (p. 6). Through my observations and analysis of what happened during my study, I found that a choice based studio environment does encourage artistic behavior that will excite students' curiosities to look, explore, play, take risks, analyze and discover. I believe these to be important aspects for igniting imagination creativity, and artmaking. I also agree with Pink (2005) who argued that we should cultivate kids into w hat he called design agents of change ; for they will make our world a better place to live. Martin (2009) similarly notes "the real world of today, it seems both children and adolescents will call upon a great divergence of skills and practices as they meet a particular challenge, or make an imaginative leap into a new idea" (p. 330). In my curriculum, the design thinking process engaged my students in not only looking but se eing by observing closely, planning, researching, and building greater awareness about a subject of interest to them. I saw my students demonstrating empathy toward others and toward humanity, collaborating with peers, brainstorming, playing, and engaging in research. My students developed confidence in creative problem solving through exploration of relevant, personal, meaningful, issues. They created purposeful prototypes, rough sketches, and art that exemplified creative thinking and innovative ideas. Even though this was a small study, short in duration, and taking place only with fourth graders in one school, I am convinced that choice based art and design thinking have much to offer for 21 st century art education. Zimmerman (2009) states how importan t it is for art


36 education to foster creativity, imagination and innovation to students for creating solutions for now and in the future. I believe that the utilization of both choice based learning and design thinking, as pedagogical and curricular practi ces prove to be an asset not only to the students, but that these approaches could also support art educators in their advocacy for fostering creative thinkers and lifelong learners who will contribute social, cultural, political and global solutions for the 21 st century. As was the case in my curriculum and my study, teachers will have to adapt the model to fit their own students' interests and school contexts. Teachers should feel encouraged and empowered to do so.


37 REFERENCES Bartel, M. (2011). Ten classroom creativity killers. Retrieved from Bastos, F., & Zimmerman, E. (2011). Surprise me. Art Education, 64 (1), 5 7. Bates, J. (20 00). Becoming an art teacher. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning Bequette, J., & Bequette, M. (2012). A place for art and design education in the stem conversation. Art Education, 65 (2), 40 47. Brown, T. (2011). A step backward. Retrieved from education Bryant, C. (2010). A 21 st century art room: The remix of creativity and technology. Art Education, 63 (2), 43 48. Delacruz, E. M. (in press). Acts of engagement: Utilization of action research to inform and improve teaching, research, and public work. In M. Buffington & S. Wilson (Eds.) Practice theory: Seeing the power of teacher researchers. Reston, VA.: National Art Education Association. Dick, B. (1999). What is action research? Retrieved from Douglas, K. (2007). Start with students: Choice based art education. Art Beat (December, 2007), A P ublication of the Art Educators New Jersey. Retrieved from Douglas, K., & Jaquith, D. (2009). Engaging learners through art making. New York, NY: Teachers College Press Dschool of Stanford (2012) Design thinking bootleg toolkit. Retrieved fro m


38 content/uploads/2011/03/BootcampBootleg2010v2SLIM.pdf Florida, R. (2004). America's Looming Creativity Crisis. Retrieved from looming creativity crisis/ar/1 Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple in telligences: The theory in practice. New York: Basic Books Gude, O. (2010). Playing, creativity, possibility. Art Education, 62 (2), 31 37. Gude, O. (2004). Postmodern principles: I n search of a 21 st century art education. Art Education, 57 (1), 6 14. Hatha way, N., (2008). 10 teaching and learning strategies in a choice based art program. Arts and Activities, 44 (1), 36 37, 53. Hetland, L., Winner, E., Veenema, S., & Sheridan, K. M. (2007). Studio thinking, the real benefits of visual arts education. New York NY: Teachers College Press IDEO (2012). Innovative design engineering organization. Retrieved from IDEO (2009). A Design Thinking Approach to Public School. Retrieved from design thinking approach to public school/ Institute of Design at Stanford. (2012). Retrieved from 12 lab/ Jaquith, D. B. (2011). When is creativity? Intrinsic motivation and autonomy in children's art making. Art Education, 64 (1), 14 19. May, W. (1993). "Teachers as researchers" or action research: What is it, and what good is it for art education? Studies in Art Education, 34 (2), 114 126. Martin, J. M. (2009). Creative i ntelligence, creative practice: Lowenfeld redux. Studies in Art Educa tion, 50 (4), 323 337


39 Muniz, V. (2010). Waste Land. Retrieved from Pink, D. (2005). A whole new mind New York, NY: Penguin Group Pink, D. (2009). Drive : T he surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Penguin Group Pinwheels for Peace (2012). Retrieved from http://www. pinwheelsforpeace .com/ RED lab (2012). Retrieved from bin/faq.php Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds: Learning to be creative United Kingdom: Capstone Publishing. Robinson, K. (2009). Killing creativity in our schools. Retrieved from Rufo, D. (2011). Allowing artistic agency in the elementary classroom. Art Education, 64 (3), 18 23. Stanford Social Innovation Review. (2010). The origin of design thinking. Retrieved from Stanford University. (2009). Taking design thinking to schools. Retrieved from design/presentations/Taking design to school.pdf Stude nts Rebuild. (2011). Paper c ranes for Japan: The j ourney of t wo m illion c ranes. Retrieved from The Knowledge Loom. (2011). Teaching for artistic behavior: Choice b ased art. Retrieved from TAB. (2011). Teaching for artistic behavior. Retrieved from


40 TAB Group. (2012). Members and blog. Retrieved from ChoiceArtEd/ Waters Adams, S. (2006). Action research in education. Retrieved from Zimmerman, E. (2009). Reconceptualizing the role of creativity in art education theory and practice. Studies in Art Education, 50 (4), 382 399.


41 LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Five Modes of Design Thinking .18 Figure 2 Choice based drawing studio center with supplies .24 Figure 3. Design thinking and choice based student artists' wall of post it notes .26 Figure 4. Student artist group's prototype is rough sketch art with peers' feedback .28 Figure 5 Student artists engaged in artmaking in choice based 31 Figure 6 Stu dent artist's finished artwork with written reflection .32










46 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Kim Dahlheimer is a graduate student at the University of Florida and a full time art educator for kindergarten through eighth grade at a private school located in the southeastern part of the United States. She has been an art educator for nine years and has Florida ce rtification in K 12 art education. She received her BA in Art and Design from Southern Illinois University. She is a member of National Art Educators Association. Her current research involves the study of fusing choice based art education and design thin king to foster creativity in students.