Theses Doctoral

Making Art to Read: an Investigation of How the Making of Art Can Help Adolescent Students Explore Literature

Robinson, Ariela

This qualitative teacher - research study investigates how secondary students in English classes might use art materials and the construction of abstract artworks to explore, develop, and express their responses to and interpretations of literary works. The study was guided by the following research questions:

1. What happens when students are introduced to a wide variety of art materials and encouraged to use them to discover and express their response to or interpretation of a literary text?
1a. How do students describe how their understanding of or relationship to a work of literature is impacted by their production of a work of art in response to that literature?
2. How do students describe the experience of displaying their responsive art works in a final art “show” or classroom display, and how does their preparation for such a capstone event impact their creative process or their experience of producing their work of art?
3. What challenges and obstacles seem likely to arise for a teacher who tries to implement an instructional program in literature that includes a requirement that students create works of art to explore or express their response to or understanding of a literary work?

The data collected and analyzed include classroom observations in multiple classes, student writing, student artwork at all stages, student testimony, and student responses to survey questions. The analysis of the collected data suggest that the creation of works of art to explore and express literary experience and response promotes in many students an expanded understanding of the definition of ‘art’ and ‘artist’; a greater personal engagement with the assigned literary work; more original, nuanced, and insightful responses to literature; and more engaged and intellectually honest writing about literature. The greatest challenges and obstacles to implementing the arts-based approach to the study of literature in the classroom were located largely in the researcher’s own attachments to conventional practices in the teaching of literature, desire to ensure that her students acquired standard knowledge about the assigned literary work, and her lingering sense of responsibility about preparing students for conventional future literature classes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Blau, Sheridan
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2022