Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Melanie Davenport

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Meyers

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Hamrock


The purpose of this study was to use arts-based inquiry through portraiture methodology, observation, artmaking and group discussion to explore the contents of student conversations while artmaking. Using Bakhtin’s conversation theory to define the activity as verbal interaction which is dependent on response and often reflects a relationship between the participants of the conversation, my goal was to isolate and develop specific student-teacher, conversation-based engagement strategies that foster rapport through the integration of student-centered themes of conversation while they made art using collage self-portraiture. Reflective of Moll and Amanti’s (2006) funds of knowledge, research included the observation and examination of both academic (conversation related to art and art instruction, and scholastic matters) and non-academic (content unrelated to art, art instruction or other scholastic matters) patterns of conversation, uncovering and connecting their identities, experiences and meaning-making through portraiture, and the ways in which those elements showed up in their conversation during artmaking. My research questions were:

(1) What topics emerge during student conversations while engaged in collage portraiture?

(2) What topics/questions prompt positive student-teacher interactions that build rapport as an instructional tool?

(3) What conversation-based strategies might promote student-teacher engagement/Art Talk in the art room?

Using participant observation methods and portraiture methodology, a micro-ethnographic approach was used as my participants were of a particular social/cultural group. My research utilized a qualitative research process and product with the goal of procuring a cultural interpretation of language, conversations, patterns and themes (Wolcott, 2008). While I conducted my research within my own art classroom, I intentionally delved into student conversations to look for themes that took me out of the role as just their teacher. I also assumed the role of micro-ethnographer, as I looked for meanings within the conversations and artworks of my students, and how our conversational exchanges reflect their identities, what their interests were, and what they value (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992).


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