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«DOCUMENT RESUME EC 301 469 ED 349 724 AUTHOR Spencer, Ilene TITLE Recent Approaches to Art Instruction in Special Education: A Review of the ...»

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EC 301 469

ED 349 724

AUTHOR Spencer, Ilene

TITLE Recent Approaches to Art Instruction in Special

Education: A Review of the Literature.


NOTE 19p.

PUB TYPE Information Analyses (070)

EDRS PRICE MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.

DESCRIPTORS Art Activities; *Art Education; *Disabilities;

Elementary Secondary Education; Task Analysis;

*Teaching Methods


This review of the literature on adaptations in art education for students with disabilities begins with a statement of the theory that if handicapped students' beginning experiences in art are positive and successful, students will have a positive outlook and a desire to create further in art. The review describes the application of task analysis to art activities, the emergence of art education within special education, art media, ways in which handicapping conditions can be overcome in art education, instructional guidelines, and figure drawing analysis. (Contains 28 references.) (JDD) hepluctucLionz suppilec oy turtS are the pest Gnat can be made * from the original document.

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by Ilene Spencer




–  –  –

Exploration and involvement with disabled students is investigated through a review of the literature, theories and practices of art instruction. Art mediums and guidelines for instruction are reviewed, along with an overlying theme of overcoming handicapping conditions in art education.

Much literature is found to be available, thorough, and relative to the Special Education classroom. Various opinions and methods are revealed along with historical research. The 1970's and 1980's has brought us many new insights into special education. More research in the future will benefit the child with disabilities even further.

Theoretical Rationale For a child in school, Me arts is the one area "tag personal feelings can be expressed creatively. Creativity in expressions through art exposes the child to many different concepts and tasks that cannot be met in the regular school curriculum. To manipulate in a skillful manner and achieve control over the different art mediums, one can build in a child deep feelings of achievement and self motivation along with developing a positive self image. Positive experiences will in turn motivate the student in other academic areas.

An important outcome of expression through art is the handicapped student's recognition of pride and accomplishment.

Through a review of the literature on art instruction in relation to students with disabilities, identification of what type of studies are being done along with the researchers' theories and strategies will be exposed in this paper.

With adaptations to art instruction, the research identifies with the instructor and suggests means to determine what additional materials or instruction are needed to help students accomplish their goals. The overlying theory is that if the handicapped student's beginning experiences in art are positive and successful then he will have a positive outlook and a desire to create further in art.

Task Analysis An informative article written by Morreau and Anderson (1986) acquaints us to some theories on instruction stating, In an effort to provide realistic alternatives to often useless standardized or gimmick approaches to art for handicapped learners, art educators have developed activities that allow for creative expression within the parameters of various disabilities. Yet, teachers are frequently dismayed by the apparent inability of a handicapped child to complete projects "designed" for her or him. Failure, in many cases, is attributed to the child's unique handicapping condition rather than to limitations of existing planning processes for meeting the child's needs. What might be needed for development of art curricula leading to success for handicapped learners is reduction of large skill units (that learners are unlikely to master) into small steps that, if collectively demonstrated, represent the larger skill".

Task analysis is the process of reducing skills that are needed to achieve a goal, in a manner of sequential steps. In their 1986 article, Morreau and Anderson stress that emphasis should be placed on the complete the activity, rather than skills the student must learn emphasizing activities for disabled learners. These children see themselves as children first, and then a child with a handicapping condition. Salisbury (1991) notes this idea in her article on mainstreaming, "children without disabilities assume that all classes contain friends with a range of abilities and needs".

Lowenfeld (1947) claims that for the child, art is not the same as it is for the adult. Art for the child is merely a means of expression. Since the child's thinking is different from that of the adult's, his expression must also be different". We must learn to see the child through the eyes of the child himself, and adapt art instruction as necessary.

Students with handicaps tend to have great difficulty with tasks and concepts. By simplifying directions and modifying materials, art education strategies can be adapted to the handicapped student. This will provide opportunities for success and develop positive self images despite. Their hanelimppivm cop/lit-ions.

The Emergence of Art and Special Education Together Art and special educators are becoming aware of the enormous potential that art may have as an instructional strategy for teaching

the handicapped (Anderson, 1978: Arnheim, 1983: Brubeck, 1981:

Zamierowski, 1980). Integration of the visual arts into the special education curriculum can serve to train and reinforce deficient perceptual, motor, and academic skills. Moreover, participation in the arts can also become a vehicle from which to enhance weak self-concepts in special children. Both research and opinion in educational literature support this belief (Da lke, 1984). Significant gains can be seen in children participating in art. Art activities often tend to help people feel unique and productive, experience feelings of acceptance, value themselves and others, make decisions, and gain self-confidence (Omizo & Omizo, 1988). in her article dealing with the mentally retarded students, Bridges (1986) reports, "Despite their handicaps, these students are capable of creating art work that depicts their experiences or their relationships with others. Instruction in the visual arts encourages them to explore and use their imagination and may help them in their socialization processes". It is evident their is much in-depth research found on art instruction.

Art Meduims and Early Childhood Education In a publication by the National Art Education Association, Salome (1991) raises the important question of, "Why are children and adolescents trained in every area of the school curriculum except art and, in particular, drawing?" Another significant issue brought to the surface was, "Are large crayons and wide brushes the best drawing tools for young children to use? Whether children in a regular educational setting or children with handicapping conditions in a special educational setting, this is a very applicable question.

Salome (1968) gives a detailed description of the essence of the methods of using art mediums. He thoroughly investigates the comparison of kindergarten children's drawings done with large crayons or with colored pencils on 12" x 18" paper and found that there were no significant differences between groups in regards to the amount of detail they included. He did note that a few individuals included more detail in drawings with colored pencils than with the large, blunt crayons. Larger shapes were drawn by the children and they filled in more space on the paper with their crayon drawings, which may be attributed to the size of the paper used.

Salome observed art lessons in a kindergarten class and discovered that these young pupils can use pencils without breaking off the points or experiencing physical discomfort as some literature suggests they might and a large majority of elementary school personnel believe. In an article that researched the use of only wide paint brushes in kindergarten, Seefeldt (1973) evaluated kindergarten children painting on easels with wide and narrow brushes. He found that the paintings created with the narrow brushes were most definitely more complex and detailed than those created with wide brushes. Subsequent to these experimental studies, as the literature suggests, it was observed that children will select small drawing media and narrow brushes when they are available.

From the point of view of the literature it has been suggested during studio activities, to substitute pudding as finger paint. This choice has expressive capability, along with a non-offensive taste, should a student find his fingers in his mouth, and is appropriate for the younger student. The older student many use moist and soggy paper pulp in place of finger paint, which may present to be too fluid for the disabled student.

A most important statement by Salome (1991) states that the findings of these studies are contrary to the view that the amount of detail, the complexity, and accuracy of young children's drawings are affected primarily by their mental and physical development rather than media used. Perhaps teachers should make both large and small drawing media available to satisfy the needs of individual children.

Overcoming Handicapping Conditions in Art Education Perhaps a child has extreme difficulty in the handling of brushes, the literature reveals that the utilization of fingers instead, may prove successful. For example, children who are having perceptual problems are likely to have noticeable problems in reconstruction tasks such as handwriting or completing visually oriented worksheets.

Art is also a fantastic means of non-verbal expression for the handicapped child who has difficulty in communication and expressing themselves orally. The special education teacher can consult the art teacher about individual students, to develop appropriate art instruction.

Due to the fact that handicapped students many times have difficulty comprehending what the teacher expects of them in a lesson, Salome (1991) asks, is teacher demonstration-explanation more effective than presentation of completed examples in teaching students to draw visual objects?". Along with this comes the inquiry of whether or not drawing an object helps to develop a mental image of that object. In a strong and detailed article, Lansing (1981), assessed of kindergarten children's development of mental representations based on their drawings of a model figure and an eight item visual test requiring identification of the model when

placed among distractors. Lansing discovered upon three conclusions:

a) observing and drawing a figure produces more growth in the mental representation of that figure than either observation only, or observation and finger tracing of the figure, b) finger tracing affects more growth in the mental representation of the test figure than observation only, and c) drawing a perceived figure affects a more persistent memory of that figure than either observation or finger tracing of the figure.

Twenty three days after the experimental period, children who had drawn the model figure and those who had traced it still exhibited a higher degree of mental representation of the figure than pupils who only observed or had no contact with the model". This only strengthens the concept being expressed, the more senses you can involve in a child's learning, the better the results.

Probably the most monumental unearthing of art instruction being exposed, was in a continuing study on the effect of drawing in the development of mental representations as Lansing (1984) examines the effects of the size of the drawing, repeated drawing of objects and visual instruction prior to drawing a figure. Lansing came to three conclusions: a) drawing a perceived figure with a pointed pencil results in more accurate mental representation of the figure than drawing the figure with a blunt crayon, b) drawing a figure six times affects more accurate mental representations and more persistent memory of the figure than drawing it two times, and c) instruction to perceive a figure prior to drawing it affects more accurate mental representation and more persistent memory of the figure than draT.3ing without visual instruction". Drawing can positively help children to learn and be able to recall the visual characteristics of objects.

A large majority of literature available review the suggestion that special education and art instruction should work together. New educational opportunities can be developed for the disabled students, who would benefit greatly in all area of study. Blandy (1989) states, the disabled student, who is perceived as deviant and in need of "special' art education curriculum goals, objectives, and learning activities, is likely to be segregated within the educational system".

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