Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education

Department

Education, Leadership and Public Service

Program

Reading Specialist (BR)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Christi Edge, PhD

Second Advisor

Judith Puncochar, PhD

Third Advisor

Derek Anderson, EdD

Abstract

This qualitative classroom action research began with a problem that developed over the course of a school year at a rural kindergarten through fourth-grade Title One elementary school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Before beginning this research project, many of the students were highly engaged in their learning; however, some students were identified as not engaged and seemed to be coasting. The teacher researcher decided to try something new to engage all fourth-grade students. She decided to present her students with a constructivist approach to solving the problem of stacks of unwanted phonebooks from the district office. She challenged fourth-grade students to each repurpose a phonebook, thus inviting students to be an active participant in constructing reality and not just a passive recorder of one’s environment (Elkind, 2004). Rather than being told what to do with the materials, students had to make a plan for themselves. The only instructions were that students must repurpose the phonebook so that the phonebook became something new. What possible impacts might open-ended art projects have on the perceptions of fourth-grade students learning in art? Data were collected in the form of student and teacher completed rubrics, open-ended and multiple-choice questions completed by participants, and the teacher researcher’s anecdotal notes. Four primary themes in the data: student choice, social interaction, recycling/repurposing, and success. This research will inform the teacher researcher’s current and future classroom teaching practices regarding the use of constructivism in fourth-grade art lessons.

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Art Education Commons

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