What Makes Art Good?A Case Study of Children’s Aesthetic Responses to Art Works
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This study explores what 10-12-year-old students say they like and value in works of visual art. As the participants talk about their own and other people‟s art works they are formulating and expressing aesthetic responses and beginning to shape their individual aesthetic awareness. Because of the age of the participants, the exploration is framed in terms of “what makes art good”. The research was prompted by the introduction and implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum (2007), which not only positions art as a core area of learning, but also outlines values and key competencies that characterise a constructivist approach to knowledge. Such an approach requires active engagement by learners and suggests that it is important for teachers to understand their students‟ values and views. However, in the field of art education there is little published material that examines the views and reactions of students. A broadly qualitative approach to the case study was taken, drawing particularly on phenomenography and narrative. The study found that 10-12 year-old students do actively make judgements about art works, and while there are common themes that occur repeatedly, the bases of such judgement vary from student to student. The study also found students‟ ways of approaching art-making varied, with some, for example, concerned predominantly with the technical process while others were more interested in imagery or narrative intention. The thesis argues that it is important for teachers to be aware of how their students individually process their aesthetic responses in order to develop relevant and appropriate programmes.