Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Hsieh

Second Advisor

Dr. Melanie Davenport

Third Advisor

Dr. Caroline Sullivan


In this study, I examined the impacts of peer interactions on tween-aged students’ representations of themselves through self-portraits. Using social interaction theory (Turner, 1988), I implemented an action research study in the Fall of 2021. Two classes of fifth-grade students worked over four weeks to create self-portraits. I observed students' interactions with peers, collected audio recordings, and completed self-portraits. For two additional weeks, I conducted interviews with students. My findings concerning the impacts of peer interaction on students’ self-portraits show that students prefer to represent themselves in a way that is positively received by peers rather than focusing on accurately depicting themselves. In addition, factors including the influence of consumerism/ social media and students’ conceptions of beauty, particularly perceptions of ideal skin color, influenced students’ self-portraits. The findings of this study offer insight into the necessity of a multicultural curriculum within the art classroom and reaffirmation of students’ cultural and familial backgrounds.


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