Assessing Western Australian Year 11 students’ engagement with responding in Visual Arts

Author/s: Julia Elizabeth Morris, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Thesis
Year: 2015
Category: Fine Arts
Institution: Edith Cowan University

Abstract: Responding to visual arts is an important outcome of both the Western Australian and the Australian (F-10) Curriculum in Visual Arts (ACARA, 2014; Curriculum Council, 2008; School Standards and Curriculum Authority, 2014a). Responding is important because it facilitates students’ development of visual literacy, or the ability to decode and recode meaning through visual media (Flood, 2004; Flood & Bamford, 2007; Avgerinou & Petterson, 2011). This mixed methods research study investigated Western Australian students’ engagement in responding within Year 11 Stage 2 Visual Arts. A diagnostic instrument was created to quantitatively assess the engagement of 137 Year 11 Visual Arts students. Additionally, 10 students and 11 Visual Arts teachers participated in semi-structured interviews to explain and extend the quantitative findings. Five Heads of The Arts and eight Principals also participated in interviews to position the students’ engagement with Visual Arts responding within a broader school context. The findings of this research emphasise the importance of diagnostically assessing students’ engagement, particularly within senior school (Years 11 and 12) Visual Arts courses that emphasise responding in student assessment. Additionally, early childhood intervention is important for students to learn the foundational skills and knowledge required to be successful in senior school Visual Arts. In addition, professional learning is essential to support Visual Arts teachers to respond to the increasing complexity of visual culture and critical theory in the curriculum. Professional learning is also important to shift school culture from the perception of Visual Arts responding as part of academic rigour and assessment, to a perception of responding as necessary to students’ development as active citizens in a visually saturated twenty-first century life-world.

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