Improving professional learning with arts-based research

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Improving professional learning with arts-based research
Waldrep, Kyle E.
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Gainesville, Fla
College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
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Project in lieu of thesis


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Active learning ( jstor )
Art education ( jstor )
Art teachers ( jstor )
Arts ( jstor )
Educational research ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Learning modalities ( jstor )
Professional development ( jstor )
Research methods ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )


There are many expectations placed upon first year art educators. Among these are the completion of professional development programs and the application of the learning strategies and methods they promote. As organizing, retaining, and applying the knowledge gained in such programs is a goal of any professional teacher, devising strategies and methods of accomplishing this goal are imperative to manage the amount of variety of professional development many young teachers experience. The basis for this research project was the investigation and application of a professional learning strategy using arts-based research. Arts-based research is a contemporary research method that applies design principles and aesthetic elements as a tool to enhance the investigational learning process. This research documents how a first year teacher utilized arts-based research as a means of enhancing the investigation and understanding of content related to professional development programs experienced during his first year of teaching. A detailed journal of the experience, in the form of an internet blog, documents how the educator utilized arts-based research and how it impacted his professional learning. The images produced as result of the arts-based research strategies are provided as artifacts of the process. This research provides evidence that arts-based research can be used as an effective way of organizing and enhancing professional learning developed as a result of professional development programs.
General Note:
Art Education terminal project

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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887812246 ( OCLC )


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2 c. 2012 Kyle Waldrep




4 List of Figures Figures Figure 3 .1 Notes pg. 22 Figure 3 .2 Notes on Summary pg. 23 Figure 3 .3 Sketch for pg. 25 Figure 3 .4 Sketches for Summary pg. 26 Figure 3 .5 Marzan pg. 27 Figure 3 .6 Summary Final pg. 28 Figure 4.1 Cornell Notes pg. 32 Figure 4. 2 Thinking pg. 35 Figure 4. 3 Hi gher Order Thinking pg. 35


5 Summary of Capstone Project Presented to the College of Fine Arts of the University of Florida In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts IMPROVING PROFESSIONAL LEARNING WITH ARTS BASED RESEARCH By Kyle E. Waldrep August 2012 Chair: Leslie Gates Dr. Craig Roland Major: Art Education There are many expectations placed upon first year art educators Among these are the completion of professional development programs and the application of the learning strategies and methods they promote. As organizing, retaining, and applying the knowledge gained in such programs is a goal of any professional teacher, devising strategies and methods of accomplishing this goal are imperative to manage the amount of variety of professional development many young teachers experience The basis for this research project was the investigation and application of a professional learning strategy using arts based research Arts based research is a contemporary research method that applies design principles and aesthetic ele ments as a tool to enhance the investigational learning process. This research document s how a first year teacher utilized arts based research as a means of enhancing the investigation and understanding of content related to pro fessional development programs experienced during his first year of teaching A detailed journal of the experience in the form of an internet blog, documents how the educa tor utilized arts based research and how it impacted his professional learning. The images produced as result of the arts based research strategies are provided as artifacts of the process. This research provide s evidence that arts based research can


6 be used as an effective way of organizing and enhancing professional learning develop ed as a result of professional development programs.


7 Chapter 1: Improving Professional Learning Through Arts Based Research This Capstone Project was developed a s a need to devise a strategy in order to facilitate my own professional lear ning related to a variety of professional development program s that my district require d me to attend As a first year art educator, I was quickly introduced to the important rol e professional development plays in being an effective teacher Not only do first year teachers have the task of acclimating themselves to a new profession with new customs practices and regulation s, they are also challenged to improve their practice by applying teaching methods and strategies introduced through professional development programs. Organiz ing, retaining, and applying the vast amount of information presented to a first year teacher is a daunting task with which I personally found overwhelming I accepted my first profess ional teaching position while completing my Master of Arts in Art E ducation at the Univers ity of Florida. arts, my understanding of teaching strategies and cl assroom management was minimal the time I entered my first classroom and based on my reflection of my previous teachers and professors. I immediately found great value and importance in the professional development programs that were required by the school and district as I felt these programs w ould help develop and improve my teaching pra ctice. The content of the professional development programs that I completed during my first year were mostly concerned with lesson planning and teaching practices that would improve student learning. A few programs were focused on teaching aides like grad ing software, but for the purposes of this capstone project, I decided to focus my work on the professional development programs that were intended to improve my teaching practices so as to improve student learning.


8 As an art educator, artist and art edu cation graduate student, I believe self reflection is a crucial aspect of professional learning. I would define professional learning as the investigation of and critical reflection on information in an effort to unders tand new concepts and improve raft. As I reflected upon professional development programs that I have experienced, I realized that most were usually administered during a one hour course at the end of a work day. I had a need to develop a system to organize and retain what I was learning to be able to use the knowledge effectively. Being an art teacher and visual learner, I felt that engaging with this new knowledge in a creative way would help my retentio n and understa nding of the concepts. This need initiated my investigation of art s based research as a potential strategy that could meet this need How then can arts based research methods enhance and improve professional learning? The pu rpose of this research project wa s to document my investigation of applying arts based research to professional development programs I completed during my first yea r of teaching art in a public school I produce d images that visual ly represent the content of various professional development c oncepts In addition to this, I ke p t a journal that document s my thought process, opinions, sketches, and actions taken in deve loping these images and how I f el t the arts based inquiry methods have impacted my professional learning. I felt tha t an important aspect of this researc h was reflecting on and describing how arts based research functions as a professional learning st rategy that could be used by other art educator s interested in enhancing their own professional development experiences As a point of clarification, this Capstone Project is not an example of arts based research in and of itself. It is a reflective study on the applied use of arts based research to produce enhanced professional learning.


9 Significance or Importance of the S tudy through professional learning should be a characteristic sought after by any professional regardless of their career Ongoing profe ssional learning must be developed in order to be a successful art educator. The goal o f this research was to discover how arts based research strategie s could be used to enhance my professional learning. By working with the information creatively through a visual medium, I have generated a greater and mor e personal understanding of the pr ofessional development concepts I hope this project will contribute to the ongoing dialog about the relevance of arts based research in educational pedagogy.


10 Chapter 2: Supporting Literature This research project aimed to document how I implement ed the practices of a rts based research as a means of enhancing my professional learning gained from professional development programs that I encountered as part of my first year as an art educator Specifically, how art production can help create meaningful knowle dge and understanding to improve my teaching practice. I use d art based research in this capstone project as a means to not only creatively engage with the information provided during professional development programs, but to also critically reflect upon it This literature review, a foundational part of this research project, is categorized into three areas: works that deal with professional development, those that deal with inquiry as a method to enhance professional learn ing, and those that deal with arts based research. Importance of Professional Development Over the past few decades educational reform movements in the United States have set ambitious goals for student learning (Borko, 2004). Starting with t he No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act that was passed into law in 2002 by the Bush administration school have had to meet the demands of higher mandated expectations for st udent learning and raised attention to the importance of having highly qualified educators in the ir classrooms NCLB identified s uccessful teac hing practices that would provide the atmosphere for enhanced student learning. NCLB also required districts to provide h igh quality professional development programs that would allow teachers to learn new stra tegies and implement them effectively in order to see the advancement of specific learning outcomes as defined by Professional Development and Teacher Learning: Mapping the Terrain Hilda Borko (20 04) provides insights about what has been learned about effective professional development programs and


11 3). These opportunities go beyo nd the traditional forms of professional de velopment and aim at achieving high q uality professional development Borko de scribes much about the relationship between professional development programs and teacher le arning, but also describes what is still needed to be understood. In her research, Borko breaks the professional development model into four parts: the program, the teacher/learner, the facilitator, and the context in which it is being taught. Borko (2004) distinguished several attributes of mea ningful professional development. A useful a spect of her findings related to my research is her explanation of the importance of the teacher being motivated and willing to try new teaching strategies. T he effectiveness of a professional development program on the learner has been shown to i mprove with m otivation and an eagerness to learn and apply new strategies. She also highlights the importance of the teacher understanding how students develop ideas about a subject and how they make connections between t hose ideas and the key concepts of the discipline. Making these connections and understanding the role each plays within the classroom is a critical part of maximizing the effectiveness of learning gains from any professional development program. Understan ding the relevance of these attributes and utilizing them to en hance professional learning allow s me to actively seek out these characteristi cs as I participate in and reflect on professional develo pment programs While professional development has cert ainly become a priority for school administrators and districts across the country, many issues still inhibit the effectiveness of such programs for Issues, and Con cerns Sabol (2007) provides evidence that factors such as


12 scheduling, acces sibility, availability, funding and appropriateness contribute to the problem of insufficient professional development progr ams for art educators. In summarizing his research, Sabol provides seven conclusions about the state of professional development in art education. Four of these conclusions relate directly to the goals of my research project. Of primary Art educators will have to be proactive in 9). I believe this is exactly what my research will help develop. My research will attempt to discover a way for art educators to interact with their pro fessional development programs in an attempt to enhance their professional learning in a way that is proactive and meaningful. It is not enough for art educators t o expect information to be meaningful and impact thei r practice simply because it was provided through a professional d evelopment program While it is important that high quality professional development be available to art educators, we should also be motivated to actively engage with the material to develop enhanced profes sional learning from the programs that fall short Due to the rising importance of professional development and the current standards on improved student learning there is a vast amount of research that suggests effec tive methodologies for providing high quality professional development to K 12 teachers In most instances, a certain set of features has become the accepted criteria for judging the effectiveness of any given professional development. E ach researcher tends to provide his or her own subtle va riation on the se key features Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, and Yoon 2001 provide the description and explanation of these features that best suited my research In their article, the authors describe a study that examined the relationships between successful professional development programs and the characteristics that made them so. Six features in their research were identified, three structural features (form duration, and collective participation) and three


13 core features (content focus, active learning, and coherence). H ow a professional development program was designed and executed was t he main concern of the structural fea tures The core features dealt spe cifically with the content of the program. H ow was the content presented and what reflection procedure was required? I belie ve the collection and benefits of these core features are also present in the benefits that arts based research provides to the prof essional development programs of art educators. As explained by Garet et al (2001), there is insufficient research about professional development that actually deals with the content of what teachers learn Teaching strategies and classroom management are among the wide range of content areas that can be the focus of any number of professional development programs. Given the variety of professional development content art educators are likely to experience, the perceived relevance of the content of the pro fessional development experience will likely vary. In many cases, the educator must decipher exactly how the information provided in the program can be utilized most effectively in his or her own classroom. Garet et al suggest that the most effective conte nt for positively affecting the is rarely the situation for a first year art educator. My experience has been that most programs focus generally on pedagogy and teaching practices. While I found these programs to be meaningful experiences they did not deal specifically wit h art education teaching practices and methods However, the second of the core features listed by the authors active learning, is the most critical feature, not only to my research, but to the success of professional development programs in general. The authors describe active learning professional development activity for teachers to become act ively engaged in meaningful 925). A ctive learning opportunities give the teacher the


14 chance 926). In the ar ticle, the authors cover specific active learning opportunities such as planning classroom implementation, presenting information, leading, and writing. The focus of my research relates most directly to this category of effective professional developme nt c haracteristics. I feel that art teachers participating in professional development experiences have the potential to proactively employ active learning in order to positively alter the effectiveness of the professional development program A motivated, eag er learner can proactively take information and review it from a different perspective. Year Longitudinal S Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, and Birman (2002). In the article, the authors have used the same guidelines to judge the effectiveness of professional development programs as stated in the Garet et al. (2001) article. Desimone et al. determined, as did the authors of the previously mentioned article, that active learning increased the impact of professional development activities. Activities where the learner is engaged and working with and through the information create more impactful experiences than when the learner is passively receiving the information (p. 101). While this seems to be an obvious concept, in my experience, many cases require the learner to create the active learning experience. Most of the professional development opportunities in which my school/district required my participation lasted for about an hour, at the very end of the day, for one day. Allowing for reflection, planning, and making connections to previous knowledge in such a short time frame is nearly impossible. I be lieve it is the responsibility of any professional to take what is provided and d o what he or she can to improve it rather than to sit idle and accept mediocre professional development.


15 Ann Webster Wright (2009) calls for what she describes as a change in terminology from professional development to professional learning (p. 713). She explains that the term development suggests that knowledge is manifested through direction and guidance. However knowledge is truly created and embraced through the experience of learning Webster Write clearly illustrates learning as an activity that requires aggressive participation fro m the learner. Q uoted throughout the article are citing his belief that the learner is the integral component of leaning. He concluded that it was through critical reflective actions that the learne r was able to develop meaning and understanding (p. 722). T his research embraces a constructivist approach of creating knowledge rather than viewing knowledge as the transmission of information By understanding what makes professional development effect ive in creating enhanced professional learning, it is important to investigate and learn what methods are most effective in producing professional learning. My research led me to f urther investigate if arts based research practices would work as a method f or enhancing active professional learning? Inquiry as a Method to Enhance Professional Learning Recent depth engagement than is usually pr esent in a traditional conference style professional development format (Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, and Gallagher, 2007). Since the goal of any professional development program is to effectively change a teacher s practice to improve studen t learning, ref ormed program s include interactive 229). As part of the reformed format suggested by Penuel et al., professional


16 development activities that im plement hands on, active learning through inquiry have been connected to positive student outcomes. suggestion is that by working with and reflecting upon the information through inquiry, the learner is more intellectually and effectively enga ged with the information and thus, actively learning. A major component of using inquiry as a method of promoting active learning is the understanding that the investigation of new concepts references previous knowledge The inquisitive pro cess reiterates the constructivist approach to learning where the learner is not passively receiving information but actively engaging with the information by the linking of previous knowledge. Cochran S mith and Lytle (2001) look into the benefits and character istics of learning through inquiry. Th e authors argue in turn generates an investigation of known knowledge in comparison with newly acquired information. Through this investigation of information, the learner develops a persona l connection with the knowledge created. The authors explain that through inquiry based leaning The active search for the solution creates the next opportunity to question the results. The cycle of creating knowledge through inquiry never stops an d continues Inquiry as a form of professional learning allows the teacher to not only receive information, but to take that information and intellectually work through it, interpret it, a nd reflect upon it. This creates new questions that require new solutions. How then can a rts based research be used as a tool to e ncourage this inquiry cycle about the information provided by professional development programs? Implications for Arts Based Research on Professional Learning


17 In order for professional learning to take place, a teacher must have a meaningful understanding of the concepts covered through the professional development program s administered to them I suggest that the evidence of such learning and understanding can be developed and made visible through arts based re search As identified within Taxonomy, creative application achieves the highest level of re asoning (National Arts Education Association, 2011). Creative application is the ability to compose and design based on knowledge gained from a learning exp erience Thus, u tilizing arts based research as a strategy to promote professional learning is thus applying higher order thinking skills to interpret and refle ct upon new concepts. Based Art Education: Learning That Is Meaningful, Au thentic, Critica l Sullivan found that many disciplines are coming to appreciate the importance of ar tistic thinking and practice in reference to their area of study. Strategies such as visualization skills, interpreting information from word to image, creating artifacts based on a concept, and self reflection are all common disciplines found in the art s tudio that are being integrated into other areas of study. Sullivan also draws attention to the critical analysis and reflective properties that are inherent in the visual arts culture. These same strategies are the basis from which I developed my professi onal learning strategy that applied visual arts production pr actices of arts practices in the realm of critical research. Sullivan explains that art production is a creative form of human engagement to belief is that instead of conceptualizing research as a liner process of question and solution, arts


18 lexive whereby imaginative insight is constructed from a creative and critical practice through art practices, researchers are able to view and reflect on that information through multiple perspectives and gath er a more elaborate understanding of the subject area. Sullivan hen art practice is theorized as research, it is argued that human understanding arises from a process of inquiry that involves creative researcher engages in higher order thinking through artistic creation and critical reflection, cultivating a more in depth learning experience. U nderstanding that the characteristics and strategies of artistic practice encourage higher level thinking, a meth od such as arts based research c ould provide a means of enhancing the professional learning of teachers. Baro ne and Eisner (2006) define arts based research as the presence of aesthetic elements in the inquiry and investigational process during educati onal research. They explain that arts based research is a process intent on expanding perspectives and conversations a bout the field of education. Arts based research is a form of research that aims t o create as many productive questions as it solves. I be lieve arts based research fits the qualifications for promoting active learning as it is a process of interpreting the information provided by the professional development in whatever context the artist chooses to pursue. While Barone and Eisner promote th e use of arts based research as a whole, the majority of their text is devoted to the linguistic forms of arts based research I feel that they miss the opportun ity to point out the ap plications that the visual arts provide that could enhance the organizat ion and meaning in understanding any information, presented linguistically or otherwise. Art educators could use a rts based research methods to brainstorm how conce pts would apply to their classroom s or how practices might affect th eir student population. The research


19 can also use arts based research to conceptualize content from a variety of perspectives all in one creative expression. Finel y (2007) known and that broadeni ng the range of perspectives available for constructing knowledge of a research topic only heightens the understanding and importance created by it. The conce pt of broadening perspectives has been particularly relevant for my research as an expanded perspective of knowledge and in formation is exactly what I have attempt ed to produce through this research project Educator engage in professional development pro grams in an effort to improve their professional learning and also to stay informed on current concepts and issues relevant to their discipline. W ith these understandings, I have conduct ed research that utilize d arts based research to gather knowledge and gain expanded understandings of the teaching and learning strategies encountered during the professional development programs in my first year as an educator. My belief is that arts based research methods produced a personal connection to the concepts pres ented in these programs. I have more effectively learn ed the material and reflected on the significance these concepts have for my teaching practice. Reflecting with arts based research has allowed me to actively plan and contemplate application of the con cepts within my teaching practice.


20 Chapter 3: Methods and Research Hypotheses A required attribute of professional educators is a n effective professional learning strategy Through this research, I have investigate d and compile d characteristics and application methods of arts based research in order to understand how it improve s my professional learning The goal of my research wa s to document my use of arts based research to supplement my understanding of knowledge gained through professional development programs offered by my school district In order to have a broad ened understanding of successful professional devel opment characteristics part of my research focus ed on literature that identified and defin ed such characteristics I believe the methods of arts based research provide the means to effectively engage in professional learning and research as art educators In the article Research: Activist Art E ducation author Michael Emme (2001) Visual work that we have learned to do as art makers, is precisely the appropriate tool for the 21 st century research 57). As explained by Emme, r epresentation in its simplest form is the interpretation and explorat ion of an idea A v isual r epresentation is not only the object viewed but also as an activity, process, or state of realization. By extending this idea, the author proclaims that the process of visual represe ntation is as an effective form of educational research. Emme concludes that there are cognitive connections that are possible only through visual communication (p. 71). Utilizing art as a means of educational research provides a unique way of critically thinking and exploring an area of study. Design In selecting which professional development programs I would use for this project, I analyzed the main conce pts of all the programs I attended this year and categorized them into two groups : those that I felt would benefit the most from applied arts base d research methods


21 and those where further investigation was unnecessary. The professional development programs that I chose to interact with were the programs that dealt specifica lly with information that was meaningful to my practice, pedagogy, and/or s tudent learning. I also felt that arts based research would generate additional knowledge about these programs I felt that the programs that dealt with such topics as school policies and grading/attendance software would not greatly improve this project, my teaching performance, or my students learning. As defined by this capstone project, arts based research is the engagement in artistic practices to visually work through and reflect upon information, producing a broader, more meaningful understand ing of the research phenomenon. The application of arts based research in this project resulted in a variety of artistic products as a result of reflecting on the content of professional development programs I participated in as part of my first year as an art e ducator. I chose to work with the different programs individually, producing a different image with each cycle of arts based research Working in cycles allowed me to adjust and alter the process when necessary. The cycles involved a four step process. St ages of the Application Cycles and Images Created Step One: Presentation Notes. The first step in the cycle took place during the individual professional development programs. During the presentation of the information, I took notes, drew images, doodled a nd created visual embellishments in an effort to produce a collection of knowledge based on the information that did not solely rely on textual information. I tried to give text and image an equal representation during this stage of the process. I gave no consideration to the final image at this point in the cycle. I focused completely on the information that was being presented and did my best to comprehend the meaning fully. After the presentation, I would usually look back over my notes and add any addit ional detail that I felt


22 compelled to include. The size of the sketchbook that contained these notes was made of paper 3. 1 and figure 3. 2 show the product of this first stage in the cycle. Figure 3 1 take meaningful notes.


23 Figure 3. 2 Notes on Summary. This images shows the manner in which both text and image were used to make meaningful notes.


24 Step Two: Revisit, Reflect, and Develop Composition. At this stage of the cycle, I further investigated the research topic by revisiting the notes that I took from the profession al development session. I also reviewed the Powe rPoint presentations of the original material from the program that were made a vailable to the faculty. I compare d the PowerPoint presentation with my notes and add ed any additional information I felt I may have missed or failed to include. At this stage, I consider ed what I felt would be the most appropriate composition to translate the meaning I wanted to present in my final image. For example, if I felt the image could be useful as a teaching aid i n my classroom, I produce d a composition that could be u sed in a handout or classroom poster that could be available for my students to view. Other images were designed with a more personal or metaphorical representation of my understanding of the professional development content. I found this to be a very imp ortant aspect of the creative process in that it required a very thoughtful consideration into the implication of the image to be produced. Certain questions needed to be asked at this point in the process. Who will be the viewers of this image? What infor mation is essential to the success of this image? Will text be an important aspect of this image? With this information, I be ga n to sketch out ideas for the final image. In some instances, the final composition was immediately discovered. Other cycles of the process required a deeper search for the appropriate image that I wanted to create. These images were done on a larger 3. 3 and figure 3. 4 show examples from this stage in th e cycle.


25 Figure 3. 3 Sketch for Marzano's Vocabulary. This image shows the sketch that was used to develop the composition that would be used for the final visualization for this professional development program.


26 Figure 3. 4 Sketches for Summary. This image shows the multiple sketches that were created in an effort to find the best composition for information the artist wanted to depict. Step 3: Completion of the Final Image. The final step in the cycle was to complete the final well organized and executed image. I first considered the medium that I wanted to use in the image, again giving thought to the proposed audience of the work. I would then refer back to both the notes and sketches that refer enced the particular professional development topic I was working with. Of course, in using different mediums, different application methods and principles were utilized in creating the varied images. Regardless of the medium, I a lways aimed at producing a well crafted work of art that represented the specific aspects of the professional


27 development that I selected as most influential. Figure 3. 5 and figure 3. 6 show examples of this stage in cycle. Figure 3. 5 Mazano's Vocabulary Final. This is a digital painting that illustrates the understanding of a professional based research.


28 Figure 3. 6 Summary Final. This image show s the result of the use of arts based research applied to the content of a professional development program focused on the skill of summarization.


29 Step Four: Critical Reflection and Public Posting. After completion of the final image, I would consider the effects of using arts based research on the specific topic and decide if the process needed adjusting before the beginning of the next cycle. If I felt that the process had produced a sufficiently enhanced learning experience with unique knowledge creation I chose to continue on with the next cycle. Generally, only minor adjustments were made in process of completing the cycles, such as a more intense research of the topic using the I nternet if it was felt that sufficient information was not available. Onc e the final image was completed with the critical reflection, a record of the process was posted to a public blog on the I nternet. The site of this blog can be viewed at http://waldrepufcapstone.blogsp The site is available for any person to view with the capability to make posts in regard to any inquiries or comments they may have on the process or the images. Limitations A limitation this work is the fact that the information and findings of this study were created by a singl e graduate student. While I have communicate d with my peers and committee members about the progression of my research and reflect ed on any suggestions they have provided the findings and conclusions drawn from this proj ect have been entirely based on what I as the researcher found valuable and noteworthy to professional learning in art education. While there may b e a case for this being a limitation I believe it to also be one of the greatest strengths of the research f or myself as the researcher. Conduct ing and developing this Capstone Project with the strate gies of arts based research has force d me to immerse myself in the investigation and critical reflection of effective professional learning strategies.


30 Chapter 4: Results Effects of Successful Arts Based Research The use of arts based research in this Capstone P roj ect confirmed and broadened my growing realization that artistic practices produce meaningful research and authentic professional learning Utilizing art production as a tool to investigate an educa tional research topic connected me, the researcher to the topic s I researched in a personally significant way. Through this connection, I discovered that the integrated concepts connecting seemingly unrel ated aspects of a subject as profound as education become apparent during aesthetic investigation. In working and ref lecting artistically on the content of the professional development I experienced I came to notice certain ways that arts based research enhanc ed and improved my professional learning Arts based research provided a proactive response to professional development By using artistic practices to research and reflect on the principles and methods covered in the professional development programs, I established a constructive engagement with the material. I took the initial insights and knowledge gained from having participated in the programs and reflected on them in way s that built upon these first impressions and constructed a stronger, more informed conceptualization of the significance of these programs and their content Many of the programs I completed we re administered in a n hour session at the end of the work day. I t is difficult to develop meaningful professional knowle dge of a concept over such a short period of time As a professional educator, a more substantial reflection period was needed to truly recognize and appreciate the impl ications that the strategies he ld for my practice. Applying arts based research to work with the information was a proactive response in that I did not mer ely accept the information provided but rather took action and create d drawings and other artworks based on my comprehension of th e subject matter As artistic


31 practice inherently involves emotional responses, and I made an emotionally personal connection with the conten t that I researched Connecting in such a way with the different methods and teaching practices, built my understanding of the implications and significance these concepts potentially had for my teaching practice This was the case specifically with the Cornell Notes professional development program. Cornell Notes is a note taking strategy meant to teach stud ents an organized and methodical approach to taking notes. As a student, I had never been taught a note taking strategy. My initial response after completing the program was that it appeared to be a useful strategy but I had not been able to truly develop a meaningful c onnection to the benefits it had My use of arts based research allowed me to delve into the information and consider how I would teach and utilize Cornell Notes in my classroom. I then developed a visual aid that could be used to teach the s trategy directly to my students but now with a personal connection that was developed (Figure 4.1) I felt more confide nt in my command of the concept I understood the benefits more clearly of applying that learning method in my classes By using arts base d research I proac tively sought a deeper understanding of the concept and made the professional development more meaningful for my practice.


32 Figure 4.1 Cornell Notes


33 Exploring information using arts based research allowed for continuous assimilation of and reflection on knowledge. Using arts based research in the manner described in this capstone project provided multiple occasions for me to assimilate knowledge from the completed professional development programs. First ly, I took notes during and immediately following each in dividual program. Secondly, I researched and reflected on the material to draw out the specific meaning for my prac tice my classroom and my students Lastly, I prepared for and completed the final visualizations. De aling with the information multiple times, from multiple situations, with multiple perspectives over the course of the year proved to be a very beneficial attribute of the process. Not only was I refreshed with the deta ils and purposes of the professional development topics, I was also able to reflect on the information based on the experiences gained from teaching throughout the year. I also applied the newer perspectives gained from the University of Florida These new perspectives allowed for a more intellectual and seasoned connection to be made between the professional development concepts and the learning characteristics of my students. Borko (2004) reflects on this positive attribute in her explanation of the importance of understanding how students think and make connections with the material as a characteristic of highly effective professional development. This applied use of arts based research also allowed for multiple c ycles within the process itself b y applying arts based research on a variety of topics. I was able to adjust and reflect on my use of the research method in an effort to improve the professional learning formed by its use. I used the blog as a means to record the multiple reflections tha t commented on the evolution of the process.


34 Arts based research employed the highest level of cognitive ability. Through my use of arts based research, I tasked myself with creating artwork based on my understanding of concepts, perceptions, and ideas. T his required the translation of words and thoughts into visual images. During the presentations of the professional development material, I connect ed with the information by taking notes and doodling images in response to what was presented. While this kep t me engaged in the presentation, it was a minimal interaction with the concept. By working with the knowledge in a way that constru cted and applied creative insigh t, I was able to make use of my highest level of cognitive ability. Creative planning and critical reflection as a form of inquiry went beyond recording information and other lower level cognitive activities. Creative application as a means of inquiry according to Sullivan (2006), engages the highest level of a cognitive ability generating a more thorough comprehension of the information. My use of arts based research throughout this project helped produce an enhanced understanding of the different professional developments and the implications on my teaching pra ctice. Arts based research developed an expanded perspective of the professional development programs A product of using arts based research to improve my understanding of the content of the professional development programs was my expanded perspective of their importance to student learning and to my teaching methods The opportunity to make a meaningful connection to most of the programs was limited to a short presentation and a minimal follow up exercise. I chose the programs to work with in this project because I felt further comprehension was necessary to impact my professional learning. I believe I accomplished this broadened comprehension by the expanded perspective gained by interacting with the content through building visual aesthetic representations of my connections to the content.


35 This positive effect was p articularly relevant with the use of arts based research in response to a professional development program focused on the different levels of knowledge and cognitive abilities. I applied arts based research in creating a visual representation of the percei ved physical appearance of a person using higher order thinking skills (Figure 4.3) Thinking in this way broadened my perspective of the information. It changed the point of view from which I could reflect in a different manner. This altered perception ge nerated a new aspect of the content that I could relate to and produce new understanding. Figure 4.2 Thinking Figure 4.3 Higher Order Thin king The use of arts based research developed an active learning experience. An important effect of my applied use of arts based research was that it created an active learning experience where I was able to explore the substance of the professional development programs more thoroughly. This experience allowed me to go beyond the sometimes minimal requirements of the pr ofessional development program and work wi th the information in a personally


36 meaningful way. These active learning experiences provided me with opportunities to reflect on the information and consider how I would alter my teaching methods, classroom imp lantation and student learning A ctive learni ng like that created by the application of arts based research has been identified as a characteristic of highly effective professional development (Garet et al, 2001). Answers and Questions The purpose of my research has been to understand how arts based research can improve professional learning. Through the process of completing this capstone project, I have come to understand the true value of arts based research as a tool to actively enga ge information in meaningful examination and reflectio n. In regards to my professional learning practice, I feel the application of arts based research has allowed for personal connections to develop in terms of how I interpret and utilize the concepts cov ered in professional development programs. By familiarizing myself with the concepts, critically reflecting on their meaning and their implications for my pra ctice, and planning how their utilization will improve student learning has shown to be a useful a sset to be applied throughout my professional teaching career. As every answer tends to generate another question, the subsequent question raised by my research would be how the effectiveness of this professional learning strategy has improved the applic ation of the concepts in my practice. While the purpose of this capstone project was to understand and document how the use of arts based research could enhance my professional learning, I look forward to implementing the new knowledge and insights it has created in an effort to improve myself as a professional educator.


37 Chapter 5: Discussion This capstone project grew out of a desire to identi fy a method of reflection that w ould be used to make professional development programs m ore meaningful for myself as an art educator Accepting that the information presented in such programs is proven to be beneficial to progress ing such a program should be the aim of an y professional edu cator Using arts based research as a reflection tool has proven to provide my teaching practice with the critical characteristic of proactive professional learning With arts based research, I have reviewed and reflected upon the professional d evelopment programs that I completed during my first year as an art educator. I have done so in a way that I feel enhanced my professional learning. Professional development is an integral part of professional education and it is important to become a proactive part icipant of these programs in an effort to produce the high quality experience and knowledge that we as teachers expect them to be It is not enough to simply sit idle and receive the informati on and expect practice altering meaning to be produced. Teachers should be willing to dig deeper and commit themselves to develop a meaningful familiarity with the concepts and discover how the concepts will be applied in their teaching performance. Arts based research provide s a means of creatively interpreting and re searching the material provided by professio nal development programs using a proactive approach As artistic production methods are inherently emotional practices that utilize higher order thinking skills, personally relevant connections to the knowledge p roduced about a program are developed. Can there be a higher quality of professional development experienced than one that is critically, self administered and emotionally connected?


38 Through the completion of this capstone project, I have developed an understanding of the value that artistic methods provide for educational research. Arts based research provides the unique quality of broadening the perspective of the researcher through visualization so that con nections and integrated elements are clearly identified. It is amazing the clarity that can be provided not only from viewing a visual representation, but from being the one that created it. It is natural to develop a complex personal relevance of the info rmation t hrough the process of designing a nd executing an aesthetic image This intensified relevance, along with the insights gained through the execution of the research and the critical reflection of its meaning adds to the significance that a program of arts based research produced the enhanced professional learning that I sought to ac complish through this project An intensified relevance for the information provided through professional developme nt is something that all educators must develop for themselves. I am sure many professional development programs are designed in such way s that meaningful interaction is a natural component of successful completion of the program. In certain instances, the concept being covered may be inspiration enough for educators to proactively engage with the information and develop meaning ful comprehension. At other times, the educator must apply other means to critically interact with the professional development program in an effort to produce a meaningful experience. This was the situation I found myself in with many of the professional development programs I completed I believe the importance of this proj develop a critically reflective practice aimed at improved professional leaning. I believe this project to be a success as I discovered that arts based research provide d a viable means of


39 producing the enhanced professional learning I desired. My application of arts based research generated knowledge and insights through that improved my comprehe nsion of the concepts c overed in the profe ssional development programs I chose to int eract with. The images c r eated provide visual representation of my understanding and are the artifacts of this critically reflective process. They will provide me with the means to continually reflect and revisit the significance of these concepts in an effort to never subside my efforts to improve myself as a professional art educator.


40 References Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the Terrain. Educational Researcher, 33 (8), 3 15. Barone, T., & Eisner, E. W. (2006). Arts based educational research. In J. L. Green, G. Camilli, & P. B. Elmore (Eds.). Handbook of Complementary Methods in Education Research (p. 95 110). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawerence Erlbaum Associates. Desimone, L. M., Porter, A. C., Gar et, M. S., Yoon, K. S., & Birman, B. F. (2002). Effects of Year Longitudinal Study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24 (2), 81 112. Emme, M. J. (2001). Visuality in teaching and research: Activist art education Studies in Art Education 43 (1), 57 74. Finley, S. (2008). Art Based Inquiry: Performing Revolutionary Pedagogy. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.). Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials (p.95 114). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Garet, M. S., Porter A. C., Desimone L., Birman B. F., & Yoon K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38 (4), 915 945 Cochran S mith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (2001). Beyond certainty: Taking an inquiry stance on practice. In A. Lieberman & L. Miller (Eds.), Teachers caught in the action: Professional development that matters. (45 60). New York: Teachers College Press. National Art taxonomy


41 Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What Makes Professional Development Effective? Strategies That Fo ster Curriculum Implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44 (4), 921 958. Sabol, F. R. (2006). Professional development in art education: A study of needs, issues, and concerns of art educators Reston, VA: National Art Education Association. Sullivan, G. (1993). Art b ased art e ducation: Learning t hat is meaningful, authentic, critical and p luralist. Studies in Art Education, 35 (1), 5 21. Sullivan, G. (2006). Research acts in art practice Studies in Art Education, 48 (1), 19 35. Webster Wright, A. (2009). Reframing professional development through understanding authentic professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 79 (2), 702 739.


42 Biographical Sketch Kyle Waldrep originally from Tuscumbia, Alabama is a 2001 graduate of Deshler High School. He currently resides in Davenport, Florida, with his wife Maria and their two daughters, Lorelei Lily and Aubree Alice. University of Central Florida in May of 2009. Kyle has been teaching art professional ly at Haines City High School since 2011 Kyle has been a graduate student at the University of Florida for the past two