Bringing the Arts as Data to Visualize How Knowledge Works

Bringing the Arts as Data to Visualize How Knowledge Works

Lihua Xu (University of Central Florida, USA), Read Diket (William Carey University, USA) and Thomas Brewer (University of Central Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8142-2.ch019
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Professional audiences, scholars, and researchers bring varied experiences and expertise to the acquisition of new understandings and to problem solving in visual art and literary contexts. The same breadth of experience and learning capability was found for students at eighth grade, sampled from the national population of students in the United States who were queried in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) about formal knowledge, technical skills, and abstract reasoning in visual art and in language arts. This chapter explores statistical data relating to the presence of art specialists in the sampled eighth grade classrooms. In particular, schools with specialists in place varied in density across the country as is demonstrated through geographic mapping. Secondary analysis of NAEP restricted data showed that students in schools with art specialists performed significantly better than students in schools with other types of teachers, or no teacher. The authors surmise that art specialists conveyed something fundamental to NAEP 2008 Response scores. An aspirational model of assessment assumes broad audience clarity through knowledge visualization technology, via thematic mapping. The authors explore through analog Deleuze and Guattari's double articulation of signs in natural and programming languages and demonstrate through knowledge representation the means by which complex primary and secondary statistical data can be understood in a discipline and articulated across disciplines. This chapter considers NAEP data that might substantiate a general model of aspirational learning and associates patterns in perception discussed by researchers and philosophers.
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Elizabeth Kowachuk (1996) considers the essentials of substantive thinking and dispositions for lifelong learning in art in her NAEA Translations publication “Promoting higher order teaching and understanding in art education”, where she cites to a well thought out thorough list of references in the assessment development era. As Kowalchuk explains in her treatment of higher order thinking in art: to develop higher order understanding students must gather, process and apply information in settings that may be academic or personal. National achievement tests provide a “dipstick” for substantive thinking and dispositions for lifelong learning. The 2008 NAEP continued most of the test blocks designed for and used in the 1997 NAEP Arts assessment, exercises which were generated from national standards developed in the 1990s. NAEP subject area examinations have additionally queried student knowledge, aptitudes, and attitudes that include an array of facts, principles, and discipline concepts.

Engagement, continues Kowalchuk (1996) is essential in higher order processing; and generative topics in a content area likely connect to students’ lives. Generative topics are pivotal, accessible, and connectable to other knowledge students bring to new learning. Kowalchuk anticipates the current national focus on a common core of expectation that links goals for education to generative topics. She concludes by asserting that to understand achievement/performance, we must discover what students do and how they understand their process. She maintains that a reliable teacher strategy for finding generative topics and developing goals necessitates asking what students ought to internalize from instruction—specifying the fundamental issues, methodologies, and ideas of a content area.

Key Terms in this Chapter

NAEP Secondary-Use Data Files: Restricted-use data files containing student-level cognitive, demographic, and background data and school-level data. They are available for use by researchers who have obtained a license from NCES and wish to perform analyses of NAEP data.

NAEP Data Explorer: NCES web-based system that offers users selection of variables and provides with detailed tabular results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) national and state assessments for a given subject in a particular test administration year . Users can use the Data Explorer to compare a state’s results to those of the nation, the region, and other participating states.

Data Visualization: Associates geographic maps to explore clustering and distribution of effects; and, by thematic maps reveals specific information about locations, conveys general spatial information, and makes comparisons as map are internalized visually as overlays. It involves creation and study of the visual representation of data through tables and charts.

Aspirational Learning Theory: Theory derived from statistical analyses using the NAEP arts data. It moves from art knowledge to technical knowledge to aesthetic knowledge to meaning in a sequential manner. Technical knowledge appears requisite to developing aesthetic understanding and meaning. We called the path “aspirational” because constructed response NAEP problem blocks require dedicated attention to accruing a working body of knowledge, recording growing understanding through detailed critical analysis, comparing back to aesthetic expectations of a field, with an aim of establishing a clear meaning for the exercise by the final answer. Authors reason that an aspirational model generated from the Mother/Child block might be used in curriculum planning and implementation.

Generative Topics: Are pivotal, accessible, and connectable to other knowledge students bring to the table. They are issues, concepts and ideas that provide sufficient depth, significance, and variety of perspectives and support students’ development of powerful understandings.

Bullet Model: A trajectory and focus on a procedural target. It is a pictorial depiction of the relationship between categories of reading questions in the NAEP reading data and students’ performance and color coded according to levels of thinking.

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