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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Douglas Risner


This study describes and interprets the perceptions of elementary school teachers as they studied aesthetics in two arts-focused professional development programs administered by the Beverley Taylor Sorenson BYU ARTS Partnership during the 2018-2019 school year. Field notes, video recordings, participant reflections, and a qualitative-dominant survey documented the perspectives of 92 teachers in the two programs. Coding and thematic analysis revealed the following findings.

At the onset, teachers believed art evokes emotion, spurs thought, gives a realistic representation, is traditionally kept in a museum, and that this was the art they liked best. While teachers mostly maintained these views throughout the course, they began to articulate their beliefs with more confidence, aesthetic vocabulary, and detailed justification. While clarifying their personal preferences, they also expressed a greater appreciation for the perspective of others. Teachers grew confidence in their artistic development and ability to teach the arts. Some began to see themselves as an “artist” as their definition of art and artist broadened. They found great value in the strategies offered in the program for developing students’ aesthetic literacy, including questioning strategies for creating or viewing art as text. When asked to describe the value of the arts in schools, teachers often described the value of aesthetics education. They believe aesthetic discussions support the development of transferrable skills such as communication and critical thinking that support literacy development, social studies, math, and learning in other content areas.

Given the results and findings from this study, recommendations for program improvement and future research are as follows. A descriptive qualitative study should be conducted to reveal how teachers implement their learning on the philosophy of aesthetics in their classrooms. Quantitative studies could measure teacher’s beliefs, program outcomes, and/or the success of the pedagogical strategies used in these programs. The findings in this study would be strengthened with a comparative analysis with this quantitative data. A quantitative survey could measure teachers’ self-efficacy, confidence, and beliefs regarding their artistic development and ability to integrate the arts into their teaching practice.

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