Type of Document Dissertation Author Creel, Michelle URN etd-04112005-142022 Title The Endangered Species Sculpture Garden: An Interdisciplinary Environmental Art Education Curriculum for At-Risk Youth Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Art Education, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Tom Anderson Committee Chair Dave Gussak Committee Member Manny Shargel Committee Member Sally McRorie Committee Member Keywords
- Environmental Art
Date of Defense 2005-03-21 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe Endangered Species Sculpture Garden: An Interdisciplinary Environmental Curriculum for At-Risk Youth
Michelle S. Creel
Department: Art Education
Major Profesor: Dr. Tom Anderson
Degree: Ph. D.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2005
This qualitative, participatory action research study describes the implementation of an environmental art curriculum developed for third, fourth, and fifth grade at-risk students. It explores what empathy means to participants and what empathetic behaviors were observed as children engaged in ecologically-themed, cooperative art projects that resulted in the creation of an Endangered Species Sculpture Garden and included interactions with high school mentors, visiting artists, peers, and kindergarten and pre-school children. Data were obtained from many sources including interviews, questionaires, class discussions, writing, video, photographs, student art, and impressions and observations, recorded in the researcher's journal.
Based on two semesters of data collection, I discovered that as children created the communal, aesthetic space, most learned how to be more socially capable, exhibited greater cooperation during interactions because of common goals, and reciprocal and more meaningful learning occurred evident in the supportive and helping behaviors exhibited by most students. Art played an important role in developing empathy in the context of this project. As students participated in various art projects, most practiced empathetic and prosocial behaviors during interactions; however, my own relationship was the most meaningful, sustained relationship.
There were several instances where students did not exhibit prosocial or empathetic behaviors, particularly during transitions or when they were disappointed, angry, or disengaged, possibly because they felt marginalized or needed more consistent structure and guidance.
Four emergent themes developed. First, projects implemented after school were generally more organized and successful than projects implemented during the regular school day. Secondly, it became evident that quite often the school institutional structure does not accommodate individual being and individual effort. Thirdly, because of the increased emphasis on standardized tests, the imaginative lives of children possibly are being neglected. Fourth, the study indicated that children seem to need more opportunities to develop intimate relationships with nature.
Implications for educational practice include the idea that implementing art curriculum for students that fosters the practice of empathy and caring behavior can in fact be implemented in a public school setting with the appropriate support.
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