Journal directory listing - Volume 31-41 (1986-1996) - Volume 37 (1992)

Theory and Practice in Art Education -Art Appreciation Domain Among Students in Taiwan and America: A Cross-Cultural Study Author: Ann CS Kuo(Department of Fine Art Department, National Taiwan Normal University)


"Why should art students be exempt from studying the history of art, learnmg about artists, writing, critiques and descriptions of art, learning art vocabulary, and accepting outside drawing assignments as legitimate homework?" (Young-blood, 1987).
The doubts concerning school art education voiced in the above-cited passage by the American art educator, Youngblood (1987) were directed towards the situa-tion in the United States, but they are equally appropriate in discussing school art education in Taiwan. There phenomena indicate the unfortunate fact that art education in both the ROC and the USA today lacks comprehensiveness of content, and that in school education art teaching has dwindled to a marginal subject of a merely ornamental nature.
Traditional studio-oriented art education places excessive emphasis on sutdent self-expression, and so it cannot provide an effective, ratonal and substantial direc-tion for art education activities. Since it gives no srong guidance for activity, arteducation cannotreadily attract people's attention and due regard at a time when education based on intellectual training is paramount, a fact which lies at the root of the problem. In art education today we stress that "art is a discipline, it has thd characteristics of a discipline and is an essential subject in general education, and should be regarded in the same light as other school subjects." We also propose that "the objectives of art education are to embance understanding and appreciation of art, and to be equally concerned about the nurturing of emotional and rational faculties. The curriculum should consist cover the four artistic domains of produc-tion, art history, aesthetics and art criticism. If these are conscientiously and con-cretely reflected in written course material, and if art activities center on works of art, then course effectiveness and students' achievement can be evaluated through appropriate assessment methods." This approach to art education involves objectives, content, activites and assessment, and has all the features of normal education. Greer (1984) defined this approach to art education by the term "discipline-based art education" (DBAE).
The DBAE concept was established at the 1964 Pennsylvania state Conference and many curriculum development plans and teacher inservice training programs are based on this concept. Because of its pursuit of improvement and its energetic promotion by the Getty Center over the past seven years, DBAE has now become the mainstream of art education concept. And yet how far does shcool art educa-tion today actually succeed in reflecting the DBAE concept and implementing DBAE teaching.
In order to investigate the linkage between practice and theory, the present study used a cross-cultural empirical survey method to carry out a systematic analy-sis of the actual implementation of art education in the ROC and the USA.
The purpose of this cross-cultural empirical study was to understand to what extent students of different age groups in the ROC and the USA, once exposed toart education in school, form a systematic force for influencing culture. Thus the students' achievement test on three domains of art appreciation - art history, aes-thetics and art criticism - was conducted in order to verify whether shcool art edu-cation actually provided a broad and conprehensive art education.
The experiment used 1201 subjects, 722 Chinese and 479 American public school students. Both Chinese and American subjects were randemly selected from five groups of sutdents that were seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, and fifteen, years of age and corresponded to the academic level of the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth grade. Within each culture group, both male and females were almost equal-ly distributed.
A suitable method of sutdents' art appreciation achievement tests were de-signed and devised based on the content and nature of courses between both cul-tures, and the surveys were carried out using written test and visual identification. The results of the sutdy in relation to the stated hypotheses were: .1. In this sutdy, evidence was obtained that children at various developmental levels had a transcultural stability when making art appreciation judgments of cer-tain global stimulus dimensions in works of art and art history test. Differences were, however, found for the five developmental level tasted. Young children were able to perform some accuracy across the art appreciation achievement tests, but older subjects were able to perform this task with significantly greater accuracy. This finding supports the study of Hardiman and Zernich (1985); Kuo (1986) and is consistent with Piaget's principle of greater flexibility and adaptability with develop-ment.
2. No significant differences were found between Chinese and American sub-jects at the concrete and formal operational levels in the ability to perform the task of art appreciation achievement tests. Piaget (1969) had stated that differences in perceptual processing were basicall non-existent by the time the concrete opera-tional level ended. Consequently, subjects at that level or beyond attended to simi-lar cues and properties. From this point of view, when viewing works of art, chil-dren at the concrete operational and formal operational levels must, make a classifi-cation or preference judgment based on their own understanding of the stimulaus, being viewed (Hardiman & Zernich, 1982; Kuo, 1986).
However, the results of this sutdy suggest that sensitivity to painting styles, or art appreciation is not solely a function of maturational development. The experi-menter believes that relevant cultural and artistic experiences also contribute to the emergence of this skill. It is hightened awareness that helps Children learn and form a general notion of style, sensitivity to works of art that can be applied to the visual arts.
This study adds to evidence that there is some degree of transcultural validity in aesthetic judgments, as well as some constancy accross cultures for the Piagetian description of children's perceptual development.
3. Statistical analysis revealed that American students at all stages of cognitive development achieved higher mean scores in the art appreciation survey than Chi-nese students. Four possible explanations could he given for these findings.
(1) The public schools of ROC lacks a theoretical basis for art appreciation education.
(2) The characteristic of art programs at both the elementary and secondary level in ROC is their tendency to place almost exclusive curricular emphasis on the making of art. Learning to see visual forms aesthetically is not a simple task. At-tention to the use of such skills and to the utilization of aesthetic frames of refer-ence surely deserves an artistic learning and experiences in art programs. In the past eight years Getty center has certainly promote American's education in the arts more substantive, rigorous, and intellectually meaningful.
(3) Schools at all levels in ROC are lacking professional art teachers, andhigh quality pre-service and inservice educational programs are urgently needed.
(4) The place of art education in general education at all public schools in ROC need to be promoted and normalized.
According to the results of this study, the researcher put forward the following proposals for reference in improving and advancing art education in the ROC.
1. Redefining the status and quality of art education within normal school ed-ucation.
2. Recognizing the importance of art appreciation learning and teaching within art education.
3. Designing suitable art programs based on the process of children's cognitive development and features of psychological development in the sutdy of art.
4. Urgently improving teacher quality and teacher preservice training courses.
5. Developing concrets instructional material resources and improving teaching and evaluation methods.
6. Studying and establishing an art curriculum theory appropriate to the ROC's current social-economical condition.
7. Establishing an academic research center for art education in order to pro-mote the quality art education in public schools and university.

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