Highlights of Findings - San Diego: Aesthetic Development and Creative and Critical Thinking Skills Study

by Abigail Housen; Karen DeSantis

Oct 5, 2007
This summary will share some of the highlights from the study conducted from Winter 2000 through Spring 2002 by Visual Understanding in Education with the support of the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), Artpace, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. The study was designed to measure the impact of the multi-year Visual Thinking Strategies(VTS) program on students in gradesthreethrough five. VTS is a student-centered curriculum in which students examine and discuss worksof art, prompted by questions selected to support careful, evidentiary looking. The three basic VTS questions are: "What's going on in this picture?" "What do you see that makes you say that?" when an interpretative comment is made, and "What more can we find?" Classroom teachers facilitate the discussions by asking the questions, pointing, paraphrasing and linking responses. There are ten lessons each year, the last of which is a museum visit. Data was collected twice a year for three years, before the first yearly VTS lesson and after the last VTS lesson of the year, to follow the growth of aesthetic and more general critical thinking skills of an initialsample of 25 experimental and 25 control students. Pre- and post-VTS aesthetic development interviews(ADIs), demographic questionnaires, museum biographies, material object interviews(MOIs), and writing samples were collected from experimental and control groups.
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