The ABCs for inclusive tertiary art education
This research project set out to make practical recommendations for an inclusive teaching methodology that enables students with intellectual impairment to study art at a tertiary level.
Marcel Baaijens – The Learning Connexion, Wellington
The project was supervised by Lynsey Gedye (MComms), Quality Assurance Advisor, NZQA.
Date completed: December 2011
About the project
The project researched published and unpublished literature, video documentaries, and online resources by authors from various disciplines that addressed topics such as:
- intelligence and creativity
- cultural democracy, and
- art education for intellectually impaired students.
Since no inclusive art education programmes were found the project conducted face-to-face interviews at exclusive, community-based art educational settings for intellectually impaired students and an online questionnaire, to uncover best practices and critical success factors.
It identified, documented and discussed models of good practice and critical success factors it uncovered in New Zealand and overseas. It tested their suitability for an inclusive tertiary art education methodology in an experimental class in New Zealand. It verified that the students’ work met class and tertiary art educational requirements. It conducted, documented and discussed case studies of intellectually impaired art students in a variety of art educational settings to determine how inclusion can best advance their creative development.
What the project found – a summary
Tertiary art education can successfully include students with intellectual impairments when a needs-based teaching methodology is used.
- A needs-based methodology makes ‘special’ art education obsolete as it allows a teacher to simultaneously teach intellectually impaired and non-impaired students, making tertiary art education truly inclusive.
- All students in an experimental inclusive class successfully met the class and tertiary art educational requirements.
- Inclusive tertiary art education benefited both intellectually impaired and non-impaired students.
- The benefits extended beyond the students to those working in the disability and education sectors and the community at large.
- An intellectual impairment can affect how someone learns. Art educational methodologies suitable for non-impaired students may be ineffective and inappropriate for use with intellectually impaired students.
- Inappropriate methodologies can cause the loss of unique cultural expressions, and endanger cultural democracy.
- Art teachers interviewed for this research, who called their art educational approach ‘intuitive’, were often unable to define such an approach, prompting an attempt to define intuition and intuitive methodologies.
- The hypothesis that intellectual impairments may create a natural conducive condition for intellectually impaired people to be creative, which is rare in non-impaired students.
- Working alongside student with intellectual impairments can be inspiring, encouraging and beneficial for non-impaired students.
Recommendations for the future
The report recommends that:
- anyone wishing to develop an inclusive tertiary art educational methodology could consider and integrate the critical success factors uncovered and discussed by this research project.
- exclusive creative spaces for intellectually impaired people could consider becoming inclusive.
- research into the brain activity in intellectually impaired students while they are creative could investigate the hypothesis that intellectual impairments may affect the self-monitoring part of the brain but not the self-expression part, and creates a natural conducive condition for intellectually impaired people to be creative
- research how care, support, transition and other disability organisations (and those governing and funding the tertiary art education and disability sectors) can best develop and cultivate inclusive attitudes, visions, policies, and strategies that will enable intellectually impaired students to transition into tertiary art education
- develop digital interactive touch-screen technology for both communication and creative design purposes, as they may prove to be valuable resources for teaching intellectually and linguistically impaired students
- practical experimentation and research in classrooms to enable teachers to cultivate inclusive attitudes, visions, and teaching skills. Documentation and analysis of such experiments may serve as a foundation for a future teacher training course in inclusive art education.
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