Theses Doctoral

Interplay of Identity Formation and Artistic Development in the Empowerment of Self-Worth of Three Visual Art Graduate Students With Developmental Dyslexia

Bulfer, Brian

Developmental dyslexia is a learning disability caused by neurological differences in language processing, affecting approximately 5-10% of the U.S. population’s ability to speak, read and write. Difficulties with literacy within this culture have social and emotional implications that can influence a sense of otherness. Artmaking is a significant form of expression for students with dyslexia during early education, and influences emotional and social development, such as identity formation. There are findings indicating that the development of an artistic identity during adolescence has implications for the continued cognitive, emotional, and social growth during higher education. This multiple-case study examines the educational experiences and artistic practices of three visual art graduate students with dyslexia. Patterns of cognitive and instructional experiences are considered, such as dyslexic characteristics, learning strategies, special assistance, educational environments, subject interests, and artistic identity formation. Emotional and social experiences that contribute to psychosocial development during education are discussed, such as the students’ experience realizing their difference from peers, the sense of social otherness, being misunderstood by educators, labeling, harassment, exclusion, and stigmatization. Coping strategies, such as artmaking, are discussed, along with the importance of the sense of social belonging during education. Participants’ artistic development is considered in terms of the significance of being an exceptional artist, the arts as an emotional outlet, and their orientation towards figuration during high school and college. In college, participants’ artistic development is compared to post-formal patterns of development, such as dualism, multiplicity, relativity, multiple conflicting commitments, and social awareness. Findings show the significance of the visual arts during identity formation and social development, and of participants’ ability during college to continue progressing towards their potentials. Implications for ideal educational environments, the full immersion of the visual arts into all classroom subjects, and significance of the arts for self-actualization for dyslexic students are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Hafeli, Mary
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 23, 2018