Effect of community-based art education on student perceptions
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The qualitative, classroom-based, case study, researched the effect of a community-based art education unit on high school student’s perceptions of their community. The seventeen students in the high school sculpture class studied the theme, Main Street vs. Superstores, by conducting visual ethnographical and internet research. In groups the students created sculptures to be displayed at the local community library. The researcher conducted the class in a constructivist teaching style to allow the students an opportunity to create their own understanding during the unit. Data was collected about the students’ perceptions and knowledge of their community, before, during, and after the study. Data was collected through surveys, interviews, videotaped class discussions, reflection papers, field notes, and the finished sculptures. The significant findings showed an increase in student knowledge about their community and a positive effect on the student’s perceptions of their community. The study also provided an opportunity for student’s to voice their concerns about local issues and increased collaboration in the classroom. Further research could analyze the effect of incorporating several community-based art education units into an art class to see if the shift in the student’s perceptions would be more dramatic and if the students would become more involved in local community organizations.