Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years
Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

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Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years In Eckhoff’s article, The Importance of Art Viewing Experiences in Early Childhood Visual Arts: The Exploration of a Master Art Teacher’s Strategies for Meaningful Early Arts Experiences (2008), the author aims to examine the connection between art viewing and art making for young children. The author explores this relationship through the lens of four teaching strategies used by a master art teacher. These strategies have implications for the teaching of the visual arts, especially in early childhood settings.

Research Question/Hypothesis

The problem posed by the author is that despite research and clear early childhood standards that support the importance of art viewing and art making, neither experience is consistently provided to children in a masterful way. A specific question or hypothesis is not provided, but an in-depth explanation of the problem is included.

The premise of Eckhoff’s research is based on a Eglinton’s early arts program model (2003) which suggests authentic art education requires equal opportunities for encounters with art, art making experiences, and aesthetic experiences. The purpose of the study is to identify strategies early childhood teachers can use to deepen the connection between art viewing and art making experiences.

Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

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Teaching Strategies During Art Viewing Experiences

The majority of Eckhoff’s study is dedicated to describing four strategies used by the master art teacher to introduce artistic and aesthetic elements. Eckhoff identified these strategies after analyzing patterns that were evident in the coded transcriptions.

Game play.

This method involves teacher talk around planned or impromptu games, for example playing I Spy with artistic elements such as color or shape.

Questioning.

This strategy was used most often by the master teacher and involves both open- and closed-ended questions such as, “What does this line look like to you?”

Storytelling.

The master art teacher tells children stories about the history or creation of a piece of art or reads a relevant story book.
Technical talk.
This method was used the least, and introduces children to technical aspects of art, such as the purpose of specific tools or media.

Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

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Research Methods

This article is a qualitative study and reports on the art viewing and art making experiences of 32 preschool-age children in the Denver Art Museum’s summer program. The researcher attended the two-week camp and observed children as they first toured museum galleries with a master art teacher and secondly, as they participated in art making experiences in the museum’s studio space. Through field notes, photographs, children’s work samples and coded transcriptions, the researcher was looking for patterns or strategies used by the master art teacher that enhanced student learning.

The author makes no mention of obtaining written consent from the participants or their legal guardians. Children’s real first names are used instead of initials or pseudonyms, which may raise confidentiality issues, especially if explicit permission was not granted. In addition, no research bias is claimed. A purposeful sampling of 32 preschool aged children, 20 girls and 12 boys, all of whom enrolled in the Denver Art Museum’s summer program for 2.5 hours a day over two weeks. Eckhoff, the lone researcher, made field notes, took photos, collected children’s work samples and recorded audio of each session.

Audio recordings were later transcribed and coded by four independent raters, with an inter-rater reliability of .86 (Eckhoff, 2008). According to McMillan (2015), this reliability score is high and considered adequate or good. This is the only statistic presented in the study and the rest of the data is qualitative.

The author does present ample research, quotes and evidence, especially in the theoretical framework section, where she outlines the premise for the study. Although the author does not state limitations in the conclusion, one possible limitation is related to participant characteristics (McMillan, 2015). Presumably, the children that participated in the museum summer camp have a natural interest in art, as well as families that can afford the program. This limitation may have minimal effect on the results, as the focus of the study is on the role of the teacher and not student outcomes.

Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

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Analysis

While this article did not provide much quantitative data in the form of statistics or numerical data, I did find the article compelling. Eckhoff includes photographs of children’s work, extensive transcripts from interviews and detailed narratives of discussions between the master teacher and the children.

One strength of the article is it provides concrete strategies with examples that teachers can easily implement in their own classroom. A weakness of the article is that these strategies are based on the practice of only one master teacher. A larger study may unearth other beneficial strategies or methods not used by this particular teacher.

Conclusions

Eckhoff acknowledges that more research on the intersection of art education, teaching methods, and early childhood is needed (2008). The author recommends a focus on pre- and in-service teacher training in hopes that early childhood teachers can build the skills and understanding required to foster an appreciation of art and aesthetics in young children.

I found this study to be both informative and interesting, and as a classroom teacher I would like to try the strategies employed by the master teacher. However, I do agree with the author that further research on a larger scale is needed in order to provide a deeper understanding of how art experiences and art making are connected and what role the teacher plays in this relationship.

Teaching Methods for Art Education in the Early Years

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References

Eckhoff, A. (2008). The importance of art viewing experiences in early childhood visual arts: The exploration of a master art teacher’s strategies for meaningful early arts experiences.

Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, 463-472. doi: 10.1007/s10643-007-0216-1

Eglinton, K. A. (2003). Art in the early years. New York: Routledge Falmer. McMillan, J. H. (2016). Fundamentals of educational research (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Publishing.

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