Theses Doctoral

A Packaged, Full-Strength Mystery: The Pursuit of Ideas In the AP Studio Art Sustained Investigation

Charleroy, Amy Lynn

The Sustained Investigation is a student-directed body of work completed as a requirement of the AP Studio Art (APSA) course. This work involves three audiences: students themselves, their teachers, and AP readers who evaluate their portfolios. Students must consider not only the personal meaning and relevance of their work, but the extent to which that significance can or should be communicated to these outside viewers. Teachers are faced with a related challenge: to guide students through work that is essentially self-defined. The purpose of this research was to document teacher, student, and reader descriptions of the pursuit of worthwhile ideas as they relate to the perceived goals and purposes of the Sustained Investigation. This research was undertaken as a collective case study involving interviews of APSA teachers and students across four school sites, as well as a selection of readers. Findings indicate that the term idea might describe a range of approaches to organizing a body of work, including themes, concepts, political stances, feelings, and other sources or motivations. Furthermore, this work often reflects multiple concurrent ideas, involving primary and secondary goals for one’s work.

The development of ideas was often linked to a nonlinearity of practice; ideas were clarified through the process of making rather than beforehand. Respondents indicated that ideas should be meaningful to the creator, largely relating meaning to personal relevance. Meaning might be pursued by selecting topics of personal significance, developing individual creative processes, or reflecting on this experience as an opportunity to fully embody the role of artist. Meaningful ideas were differentiated from successful ones. Notions of success were defined in terms of the degree of internally and externally imposed challenge involved in this endeavor. Participants agreed that students should be considered the primary audience for their own work. For some students, awareness of readers motivated them to take on challenging work, but this awareness did not influence their choice of central ideas. The findings of this study, particularly the nuance in distinctions between idea, meaningful idea, and successful idea, may be useful in informing pedagogical and creative practice in the AP program and beyond.


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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
February 23, 2021