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A study of an after-school art programme and critical thinking

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In this article, I discuss an Institutional Review Board-approved, community arts programme that was designed to enhance the critical thinking skills of ten urban elementary children by engaging them in enquiry-based art lessons. I conducted a single group, mixed methods study on a US campus through an undergraduate service-learning, honors course. Eight undergraduate honors students enrolled in the class. The interdisciplinary group of college students consisted of three art education students; a student from the sculpture department, one from social work, and three students from humanities and sciences. All of the undergraduate students had worked with children before and all had an interest in serving the community. To assess the children's critical thinking gains from the programme, I used qualitative observations and a quantitative critical thinking pre-test/post-test. The results of a t-test showed a statistically significant increase in the children's average critical thinking scores from the pre-tests to the post-tests (p.020).
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Keywords: art pedagogy; critical thinking; enquiry; service-learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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