Middle school content literacy and art: A semiotic study of beliefs, practices and environments
AuthorHaugen, Linda Lee
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis microethnography focuses on a single arts magnet middle school in a large urban southwest city to describe administrators, teachers, and students understandings of the relationship between art and literacy, how they use art and literacy in content instructional experiences, and how the environment they create supports literacy in two sign systems. The school provided a rich visual environment, an informed group of participants with a stated commitment to the arts and the academics, and a setting where art was supported and valued. Data collection utilized informal interviews with three administrators, twenty-six content area teachers and fourteen sixth, seventh and eight grade students, observations of classroom and the environment at large, and the collection of artifacts which included photographs taken by the students to record their perspectives of how art and literacy were used in their daily lives at school. Relying on a method of constant comparative analysis and data collection carried on concurrently during the study, a triangulated picture of content literacy and the visual arts emerged to reflect the three perspectives of the participants. This study dispels the notion that art is marginal in content literacy activities while advancing the notion that art is a meaning-making activity and essential to development of an aesthetic, literate person. Moreover, this study serves to persuade teachers, reluctant to bring art into their instructional experiences because they do not feel competent as artists, that talent is not a prerequisite nor a relevant concept for those who embrace a semiotic perspective and transmediation as the focus of instruction.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture