Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Melody Milbrandt, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Peggy Albers, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Melanie Davenport, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Jonathan Gayles, Ph.D.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

CULTURE, CONTEXT AND CURRICULUM: AN EXPLORATION

OF THE ATTITUDES OF BLACK MIDDLE SCHOOL MALES

TOWARDS ART EDUCATION

by

Rita Baker

The level of participation and interest in visual arts education demonstrated by Black male students falls consistently lower than that of their White counterparts which manifests itself in under performance and disruptive behaviors. Previous research has explored how views within the Black community towards art education and art related careers have impacted high school and college students. However, those explanations may not be pertinent to middle school, and the scarcity of literature dedicated to how the valuation of art within this racial group influences middle school males suggests the need for inquiry in this area. Based on a constructivist and constructionist epistemological framework grounded in social learning theories, this case study was conducted at a predominantly Black middle school outside of a major southern city. The participants in the study were six eighth grade Black male students between the ages of 13-16 enrolled in a nine-week art class. Initial data collection procedures involved observations in the neighborhood, school, and classroom, a focus group session, individual interviews, member checking, art analyses and a follow up discussion with the teacher. The data analysis was conducted utilizing content analysis, open coding, and axial coding. The findings revealed that opinions were equally divided between students who enjoyed art class throughout the term, and those who expressed boredom. The findings suggest that students’ opinions were shaped by a myriad of factors within the culture, learning context and curriculum. Further, the data implies that goal setting and student interest were connected to students’ participation in art class, while interest in art making diminished between the elementary and middle school years. Perceptions of art class, parental preferences, and the curricular focus of the class proved to be factors which influenced student attitudes towards art instruction. The data advances areas for future scholarship, and recommendations for art educators.

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