My friend and colleague from ISSOTL’s Advocacy and Outreach committee, Virginia Spivey, is a co-founder of a peer-reviewed, open access e-journal titled Art History Pedagogy & Practice. This journal is devoted to scholarship of teaching and learning in art history. It is published by Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), a peer-populated open educational resource, in partnership with the Office of Library Services of the City University of New York and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
The following are links and abstracts from a recently published — and uber interesting — special issue of Art History Pedagogy & Practice, featuring seven explorations of teaching and learning across topics of interest beyond art history. Kudos to all involved, as this collaboration is (in my opinion!) really nicely done!
This article brings three scholarly and professional perspectives to bear on museum-based learning experiences for undergraduate pre-medical and STEM students. In the first section, Marcia Brennan describes the seminar on “Medicine and the Museum: Clinical Aesthetics and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston” that she teaches at Rice University. Brennan is a modernist art historian, and her discussion focuses on the ways in which classes such as this can contribute meaningfully to undergraduate pre-medical and STEM education. Brennan collaborated with Joshua Eyler, who served as Executive Director of Rice University’s Center for Teaching Excellence. In the second section, Eyler discusses the content and results of the accompanying questionnaires that were devised to assess the overall effectiveness of the pedagogical strategy. The tabulated data results are included for each of the measured sections, which encompass the students’ abilities to make detailed visual observations and to formulate descriptions of complex subjects; to gauge their sensitivity to ethical concerns and their level of empathy regarding the emotional issues involved in caregiving; and to assess their understanding of the ways in which museums can serve as tools for continual learning and self-care. The final section is by Kelley Magill, an art historian who serves as University Programs Specialist for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Writing from the perspective of the museum educator, Magill comments on Brennan’s seminar, and she provides a complementary perspective on the role and impact of the fine arts museum within higher education.
Inspired by partnerships between medical schools and museums that produce measurable outcomes in the frequency and sophistication of diagnostic observations through limited art history-based interventions, this paper documents the re-orientation of a traditional art history survey course to explicitly address foundational visual literacy skills. This Spring 2019 pilot implemented a series of exercises and assessments designed to directly target transdisciplinary components of visual literacy and to highlight these competencies through student discussion and reflection with minimal disruption. This study employed content analysis and qualitative coding of pre- and post-tests to capture and characterize the number and types of observations made on descriptive, timed writings. This data was combined with participant reflections to assess whether students enhanced their skills of observation and description. The results suggest that minimally-invasive, low-stakes assignments, coupled with reflection exercises, produced increases in both the quantity and quality of student observations; students also demonstrated more awareness of their audience, adjusting the information as appropriate to the specific task and recognized connections between this practice and other fields of study. This suggests that art history could better communicate the transdisciplinary skills of visual literacy and promote their development within the survey course without a radical course redesign.
Engaging in the recent tradition of disciplinary and instructional self-critique by art historians teaching at the college level, this teaching practice reflection pursues the question of how an art history survey class can benefit from activities grounded in theoretical texts. In the format of scholarly personal narrative (SPN), a personal background and justification for incorporating critical theory-based lessons into the introductory art history curriculum, including narrative descriptions of four curricular areas and an example museum project, are detailed. The article paints a personal picture as well as extols the general benefits, based on the author’s perspective and experiences, of incorporating critical theory and critical pedagogical theory into art history courses. As SPN, the article focuses on personal teaching experiences and reflections organized in a scholarly structure, and demonstrates the possibilities of this method of scholarship on teaching and learning in art history.
This heuristic, design-based research study examines student perceptions of their learning experience in the art history survey course as manifested through a game design process. With the purpose of improving upon the lecture model of the standard art history survey, two sections of a capstone class of interdisciplinary art and design students—who had all taken the survey as part of their degree programs—selected learning objectives and designed games to accompany the introductory class. The researchers used the game design process to understand first how students perceived the survey class, its learning objectives, and the students’ experiences. Then the investigation addressed how these students designed games to aid learning of survey materials. The results offer survey course instructors significant insight into student perceptions of the structure and aims of art history’s foundational class.
Undergraduate art history students are often asked to write research essays on specific artworks, but that research is rarely considered publishable or reliable. This article analyzes undergraduate student essays on fashion history to determine whether the research produced can be considered reliable according to generally accepted art historical standards. It employs content analysis to make those determinations in addition to the instructor’s own standards and those governing the Fashion History Timeline, an open-access hub of fashion history research. The article investigates the impact of a multi-stage writing and revision process on student writing outcomes and on student grades. Finally, it addresses the benefits of quantifying student research via content analysis for improving both teaching and student outcomes.
This article examines how the introduction of pedagogical interventions in the art history survey class, made by using concept maps beyond an initial brainstorming phase and rather as an active-learning strategy in aid to developing thematic papers, impacts students’ perception of their usefulness. The qualitative and quantitative data gathered included two questionnaires, one submitted periodically throughout the semester and one after the concept map and term paper were completed. Additionally, this study presents a visual analysis of three sample sets of students’ concept maps to illustrate the levels of deep, surface, and non-learning. The results reveal that assigning students the task of developing the concept map and the paper in tandem throughout the semester presents some pros and cons. By using concept maps, students reflect more deeply on the nature of connections between two ideas, on the process of narrowing down the main theme, and on the overall structure of the concept map. However, students’ perception of the concept map’s usefulness beyond an initial brainstorming phase is diversified, and the sets of concept maps developed produce mixed results relative to surface learning, deep learning, and non-learning. The limitations of such use of concept maps include possible correlations between learning and motivation.
Student engagement in undergraduate art history survey courses has been a concern of art historians for decades. In this article I discuss my dissertation study in which I explored how perceptions of student and teacher identity, acting within classroom power dynamics, influence student engagement and pedagogy in undergraduate art history survey courses. Through concept mapping, interviews, and observations of three instructors and nine students in undergraduate art history survey courses at a public university in southeastern Texas, I explore perceptions of students and instructors regarding self, each other, course content, teaching style, and expectations of one another to understand how identity and power influence student engagement and pedagogy. I explored these perceptions through the theoretical lenses of power and identity. The results may offer insight as to how we address perceptions of declining student engagement in undergraduate art history survey courses.