Theses Doctoral

The Network of Influences That Shape the Drawing and Thinking of Fifth Grade Children in Three Different Cultures: New York, U.S., Molaos, Greece, and Wadie Adwumakase, Ghana

Kourkoulis, Linda

Using an ecological systems approach, this qualitative study examined how continuously evolving, personal living experiences and the ideologies and attitudes of their material, folk, and school culture come to be (re) presented in the construction of images and meaning in children’s artwork. The research was conducted with three groups of fifth-grade students facilitated by the art teacher at their schools in three different countries: United States, Greece, and Ghana. Data in the form of a set of autobiographical drawings from observation, memory, and imagination with written commentary were created by each participant and supported with responses to questionnaires and correspondences from teachers and parents. The sets of drawings were analyzed in terms of how the drawings reflect the children’s (a) artistic expression as mediated by their interaction with local and media influences and (b) sense of self, agency, or purpose.

The findings strongly suggest that style, details, content, and media use assumed a dominant role within the drawings. Furthermore, these results were reflected differently in the drawings of the cohort from each country. Having considered the set of drawings each child made as a network of enterprise emphasizes the active role the children played in the production of the artwork, involving their choices of theme and content, the media images incorporated, and the means by which a task was adapted to suit their interests. However, the results also show that the specific skills—drawing from observation, memory, and imagination—required by the four drawing tasks had a tempering effect on their creative output, leading to the conclusion that the children’s limited drawing experience constrained their ability to express themselves in pictorial representation with fluency. In view of these findings, lesson suggestions are designed to develop drawing skills across drawing modes in a rhizomatic manner of thinking. Suggestions for future research address exploring the evolution of children’s identity and sense of agency in the world through artistic expression; the role of the environment in which children draw as an embodied and embedded experience in a physical and sociocultural world; and further research into how and why children use images to communicate.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 22, 2021