Theses Doctoral

Preparation of Future College Teachers Within MFA Visual Arts Programs

Kim, Dahye

The purpose of this study was to illuminate characteristics of the pedagogical learning environment in three contemporary MFA Visual Arts programs in the United States and to investigate effective pedagogical practice for graduate art students in preparation for teaching in higher education. According to the College Art Association (CAA), the MFA is considered the terminal degree in the visual arts, unlike other related fields such as art history and art education, where the doctorate is the highest degree. While MFA students can pursue a professional practice of creating and exhibiting their artwork after graduation, many students also enter the MFA with the aim of becoming college art educators. However, there has been a lack of research that specifically examines the degree to which MFA visual arts students are being prepared for teaching. How are students preparing to become college art faculty, and what professional development programs are provided to graduate art students to help them teach art at the college level? These are questions that were the background context of this dissertation study.

This study took the form of a cross-case analysis that employed qualitative and descriptive case study traditions. Data were collected from multiple sources: primary documents and semi-structured interviews with nine MFA students, six studio art faculty members, and three administrators at three MFA programs. This study presented findings of: (a) the pedagogical preparation offered to graduate students by the selected art schools; (b) the perceptions of graduate art students, studio art faculty, and administrators regarding the quality of current academic career preparation, specifically for teaching, in their MFA programs; (c) the insights of those participants into the most important characteristics of college teaching preparation; and (d) suggestions by the participants for the best practices that lead students to become successful college art educators. Based on the findings through an analysis of the learning and practical experiences of MFA students and the perspectives of faculty and administrators, I hope that the study will extend the field’s understanding of the state of college teaching preparation in higher art education.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Hafeli, Mary Claire
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2021