What Motivates Our Students to Create? How Can We Use the Studio Habits of Mind to Assess Student Art?
I have always been a huge fan of the Studio Habits of Mind ever since I first heard of them while in grad school at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I think they are a great way to explain the benefits of an arts education! I love that the SHoM dispositions will not only help strengthen a students artistic practice, but also create skills that can be applied to other areas of life as well. When I started teaching elementary art in Arlington, MA public schools, the SHoM were applied to my curriculum right away. I even developed an activity based on the popular game, “Pokemon GO,” called, “Art History GO;” where I introduced the SHoM to my students in a fun (and silly) way!
This past school year, I had the opportunity to work with a talented group of art educators from all over Massachusetts in order to research how the Studio Habits of Mind can be applied to Assessment in the art classroom. In March, we presented our findings at the NAEA Convention in Boston, MA. For my portion of the project, I focused on assessing student motivation. The questions I asked myself were:
1. “What can I learn from my students based on their reflections?”
2. “What type of art project motivates students to create art?”
3. “Does personalization of art projects effect student engagement?”
In order to gain any answers to these questions, I created an experiment that involved my fourth grade classes. I had all three groups take part in two art projects. One project was a more personal, expression-centered Artist Book that required students to illustrate their goals/dreams inside. This lesson highlighted the SHoM dispositions, Envision and Express. The other project was more skills-centered, it focused on the Develop Craft SHoM. It involved creating a Positive and Negative Space design with construction paper. After each project, students reflected on their work by using a Self-Assessment worksheet. Through the worksheet, I collected data and was able to observe if one project motivated and kept students engaged more than the other.
I was inspired to conduct this experiment after an experience I had earlier in the year when I was beginning a landscape project with a 5th grade class. Before we began, I asked students to describe their favorite landscape in order to brainstorm and jump-start their creativity. This led to a big class discussion in which many students shared places they’ve been; places far away, as well as places around town. Through that discussion I learned so much more about my students that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. After, my students were buzzing with excitement; they could not wait to get started! They carried that excitement with them as they began working on their landscapes. The whole class was so engaged and there was such a positive energy radiating from the room! This was the third and last class I had introduced this project too, I hadn’t facilitated this discussion with the other two groups. It made me wonder, “Would my students have been so engaged had we not had such a personal, connection-making discussion?”
During the expression project, the “Goals and Dreams Artists Books,” (as I called it with my fourth graders) we started the lesson by reading, “Tar Beach” by Faith Ringgold. That way I was able to incorporate the SHoM, Understand Art Worlds, into this project as well. We then discussed the main character’s goals and dreams. We also talked about the differences between the two. Students then gave examples of their own goals/dreams. Next, 4th graders brainstormed their goals and dreams by creating thumbnail sketches before tackling the final illustrations and constructing the actual artist book.
To begin the Positive and Negative Space Designs for the skill-builder project, students learned some experimental watercolor techniques and then created an abstract watercolor background. The following class, I presented a slideshow that introduced terms such as: Positive Space, Negative Space, and Contrast. Students then used black construction paper and cut out a shape of their choice. Students then considered composition as they glued the construction paper to their watercolor background in order to display positive and negative sides of their design.
In the end, after comparing the reflection worksheets from both projects, I found that I did not see any substantial difference in student motivation between the two projects. I did, however, find that this experiment ignited a lot of motivation in me and my teaching! I learned that personal projects where students have the chance to Envision, Express, and Stretch and Explore, motivate and excite me more to teach than any other lesson. I really enjoy learning about my students and I think it is important to give them the opportunity to incorporate their voice in the art projects I develop for them. A goal of mine as an educator is to create connections with my students so they feel confident and comfortable while making art in my classroom. I want them to look forward to coming back to art class and exploring future projects. I think if my students can see my enthusiasm and see how the Studio Habits of Mind are engrained in my teaching practice, then in turn they will be motivated to create and the SHoM will become part of their artistic practice as well!
Examples of Student Evaluation and Reflection:
Samantha Kasle works as an Elementary Art Teacher for students in grades K-5 in Massachusetts for Arlington Public Schools. She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. She also graduated from MassArt in 2014 with a Masters of Arts in Teaching. Through her teaching, Samantha hopes to inspire students and demonstrate the wide range of possibilities the arts have to offer. By incorporating the Studio Habits of Mind into her curriculum, students learn to think critically, collaborate with peers, and stretch their abilities to gain confidence and reach their full artistic potential!
Samantha is a featured educator in Studio Thinking from the Start: The K-8 Art Educator’s Handbook.
How to cite this blog entry (APA 6th edition):
Kasle, S. (2019, Oct 2). What Motivates our Students to Create? How Can We Use the Studio Habits of Mind to Assess Student Art? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.studiothinking.org/blog/what-motivates-our-students-to-create-how-can-we-use-the-studio-habits-of-mind-to-assess-student-art