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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Value of the Semantic Differential to the Art Educator
by Wilkins, Denise, M.A.T., The George Washington University, 2015, 82; 1584071
Abstract (Summary)

Attempting to discover the utility of the Semantic Differential in determining learner needs and preferences at the outset of a 9-week beginner art-appreciation class, the researcher surveyed her students’ affective responses to 30 portraits. Over a one-year period, thirty-two at-risk young adults completed the survey using 16 bi-polar adjective pairs (good: bad | beautiful: ugly, etc.) to indicate how they felt about each portrait. The respondents had one minute to rate each portrait or thirty minutes total. Supported by research on the cross-cultural validity of the survey tool, the universal relevance of portraiture alongside curriculum, cognitive and visual culture theory, the student responses reveal that (1) the survey mechanism itself is useful to the art educator; and (2) there is a wealth of information on student preferences in terms of style, media, and subject.

Responses to the portraits reveal near total engagement with the process as well as interesting patterns and divergences: in one example, two portraits created 1,000 years apart were ranked “positively” by all respondents. Other examples reveal a complexity of responses across media and style as well as race, gender and age of subject.

While it has yet to be demonstrated whether the survey results can be generalizable across a population of similarly-situated individuals, the researcher believes the real value may lie in the survey’s use in creating a dialogue based on immediate information about student preferences; where, within a community, students can mine the degree to which they have been influenced by their material culture. The dialogue will serve as a safe jumping off point to explore their identity and their role in society through discussion, art production and interpretation.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Honig, Selila, Lawton, Pamela Harris
Commitee: Alberts, Rebecca
School: The George Washington University
Department: Corcoran School of Arts and Design
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 54/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Art education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Assessments, At-risk student, Curriculum, Material culture, Portraiture, Semantic differential
Publication Number: 1584071
ISBN: 978-1-321-56568-3
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