Scholarly article on topic 'Arts Education and Media Literacy in the Primary Education Teaching Degree of the University of Granada'

Arts Education and Media Literacy in the Primary Education Teaching Degree of the University of Granada Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Rafael Marfil-Carmona, Pedro Chacón

Abstract In the context of university teacher training, artistic education and the teaching of visual arts, although belonging to the specific area of artistic expression didactics, are considered an interdisciplinary area (Art Education and Arts Education). The contents of this area of teaching, mainly focused on image and visual culture, is being influenced by digital media in the creation, dissemination and reception of artistic contents, especially with the use of mobile devices. The conjunction of media literacy and the work related to artistic creativity constitutes the starting point of the current study, in which we have consulted 105 fourth-year students of the Primary Education Teaching Degree of the University of Granada (Spain) about their interests in media-related matters, as well as the links that they establish between visual art teaching and digital culture tools. This text offers the results of a quantitative survey that clearly shows the preference of the students for the audiovisual artistic genres, with special interest in photography and film, and their curiosity for new aspects, such as animation, although maintaining some interest in the traditional arts, such as drawing or painting. This is a generation that is characterised for having developed their creation and consumption of visual media on social networks, but that need training in media literacy. Ultimately, it is a synthesis of the understanding that the students currently have of artistic education and of its possibilities in the context of audiovisual and digital media.

Academic research paper on topic "Arts Education and Media Literacy in the Primary Education Teaching Degree of the University of Granada"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 1166 - 1172

7th International Conference on Intercultural Education "Education, Health and ICT for a Transcultural World", EDUHEM 2016, 15-17 June 2016, Almena, Spain

Arts Education and Media Literacy in the Primary Education Teaching Degree of the University of Granada

Rafael Marfil-Carmona* & Pedro Chacón

Universidad de Granada, Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación, Campus de Cartuja S/N, 18071, Granada, España

Abstract

In the context of university teacher training, artistic education and the teaching of visual arts, although belonging to the specific area of artistic expression didactics, are considered an interdisciplinary area (Art Education and Arts Education). The contents of this area of teaching, mainly focused on image and visual culture, is being influenced by digital media in the creation, dissemination and reception of artistic contents, especially with the use of mobile devices. The conjunction of media literacy and the work related to artistic creativity constitutes the starting point of the current study, in which we have consulted 105 fourth-year students of the Primary Education Teaching Degree of the University of Granada (Spain) about their interests in media-related matters, as well as the links that they establish between visual art teaching and digital culture tools.

This text offers the results of a quantitative survey that clearly shows the preference of the students for the audiovisual artistic genres, with special interest in photography and film, and their curiosity for new aspects, such as animation, although maintaining some interest in the traditional arts, such as drawing or painting. This is a generation that is characterised for having developed their creation and consumption of visual media on social networks, but that need training in media literacy. Ultimately, it is a synthesis of the understanding that the students currently have of artistic education and of its possibilities in the context of audiovisual and digital media.

© 2017 The Authors. PublishedbyElsevierLtd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EDUHEM 2016.

Keywords: Arts Education; Visual Arts; Visual Culture; Media Literacy; Media Education; Primary Education

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: rmarfil@ugr.es

1877-0428 © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EDUHEM 2016. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2017.02.174

1. Introduction and justification

In the 21st century, artistic education must be considered from a wide and interdisciplinary perspective. The profound influence of contents in the media, massive and digital alike, makes it crucial to take artistic teaching further, in a process that has gone "... from copying art sheets to cyberspace" (Álvarez-Rodríguez, 2003). The development of artistic teaching has gone through different phases, generating a number of schools and pedagogical models during the last century (Dewey, 1949; Eisner, 2000; Lowenfeld, 1958). Currently, artistic teaching takes place in a framework which values multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1995 & 2001), consolidating as a cross-border area:

The limits or borders of the visual arts are very wide and not strict, as this denomination has been precisely established to go beyond previous classifications, such as fine arts, applied arts, handicrafts, artistic crafts, popular arts, etc., which organized artistic categories and the cultural and social importance of objects and images into hierarchies very rigidly. (Marín Viadel, 2003, p. 17)

Universal access to mass production, dissemination and reception of media has influenced the very concept of art, which has been circulated globally thanks to current technological capabilities, favoring the creation of a mass form of culture that is directly related to the impact of contemporary image (Freedman, 2006, p. 130). In this sense, there are very clear connections between media contents and the so-called visual culture (Mirzoeff, 2003; Walker & Chaplin, 2002), based on ".critical practices and interpretations of the relationship and the subjective possibilities between the social and cultural practices regarding perspective (Hernández Hernández, 2007, p. 20).

The figure of the prosumer (Toffler, 1980) and EMEREC (Cloutier, 1975), based on theories from the 1970s, has gained more relevance in the times of communication 2.0, transcending the idea of perceiving as a passive process to promote an active spectator, who also creates messages, in a context that is directly connected with the use of artistic research methodologies in education (Arts-based Educational Research) (Roldán & Marín Viadel, 2012), based on creation processes, such as the case of A/r/tography (Irwin & Springgay, 2008). The creative and artistic base establishes a line of work that, in the field of art, could be summarized as the idea of learning while doing. In primary education, this working method must transcend the creation of simple handicrafts, which represents a reductionist view of art teaching (Frontal Merillas, Marín Cepeda & García Ceballos, 2015, p. 76).

In a digital era based on hypermediations (Scolari, 2008) and on the relational factor, digital competences are life skills (Gabelas-Barroso, Marta-Lazo & Hergueta Covacho, 2013, p. 354). In the 21st century, the new concept of media competence proposes six basic dimensions, associated with languages, technology, interaction, production and dissemination processes, ideology, values and aesthetics (Ferrés & Piscitelli, 2012, Pérez Rodríguez & Delgado, 2012). It is undeniable that many of these dimensions are related to artistic learning.

Digital culture is transforming the dual relationship between teacher and student in a three-part process involving the teacher, the student and the technological device (Escaño, 2010, p. 143). This is taking place in an environment -the Internet in the time of social networks- in which collaborative creation, the value of technology and the concept of art itself (generated from a process of "poetics of connectivity") (Martín Prada, 2015, p. 29) are especially relevant. Therefore, it is an appropriate time to consider how future teachers value and address the concept of artistic education.

2. Objectives

The main purpose of the current study is to know how the surveyed students, in their last year of the Primary Education Teaching Degree perceive the concept of artistic education, with special attention given to the link they establish between media contents and the teaching of visual arts. The ultimate goal is to design and adapt course contents and descriptions in the short and medium term, in order to adjust them to the profile of a generation that has assimilated the everyday use of digital devices into their lives. Furthermore, the current study is based on several other specific objectives:

• To learn about the artistic genres and the type of activities that most interest future teachers, with the purpose of adapting course contents and ensuring meaningful teaching and learning in the years to come, so that they are relevant to the interests of the students.

• To understand, as precisely as possible, what beliefs the students hold about the areas related to artistic education and the teaching of visual arts, with special emphasis on whether they connect these contents with current audiovisual and digital media.

• To carefully measure the degree of media and digital literacy of the surveyed groups, assessing the training needs in this area.

3. Empirical context, methodology and sample

3.1. Empirical context

This study is focused on two groups of the module The Didactics of Visual Arts, an elective module from the fourth year of the Primary Education Teaching Degree from the Faculty of Education Sciences of the University of Granada (Spain). The module lessons took place in the first semester of the 2015-2016 academic year. It is a course that, in theory, has been voluntarily chosen by the students, so an initial interest in artistic education could be presupposed. However, 25 students out of 105 (26 % of the total) recognized in the survey that they were attending the module because it had been assigned to them, due to the lack of availability of other elective modules during the enrolment process. This fact shows that not everyone who participated in the study was particularly interested in the subject area of the module from its beginning.

The module contents constitute a complement to the first-year core module called Visual Arts Teaching and Learning. This module is used to lay the theoretical and practical foundations of artistic education (pedagogical theories, children's drawing, artistic genres, etc.) and the related primary education curriculum at the beginning of the degree. However, the fourth-year elective module allows for the development of project-based work to promote students' creative abilities and critical skills as future teachers.

3.2. Methodological framework

This study is based on the application of a quantitative methodology, as it is both a research study and an education diagnostic test (Vilá Baños & Bisquerra Alzina, 2004, p. 260). A multiple-choice survey was designed to develop the study, with only some free-response questions when necessary. Despite the interest in art-based methodologies, the objectives of this assessment require the use of quantifiable methods in the initial approach. They were chosen because of the clarity given by the graphic expression of variables which are useful in education research and convenient in primary education teacher training (Arteaga, Batanero & Contreras, 2011, p. 124), as the group of surveyed students were provided with a summary of the most relevant results from the study within the framework of their artistic teaching module during the 2015-2016 academic year. This methodological framework is compatible with future qualitative actions, which are likewise adequate for further research in artistic education, for instance, using case studies (Gutiérrez Pérez, 2005 & 2014; Stake, 2007), which could be carried out for further development of the results summarized in this article.

3.3. Sample and research tools

The sample of this study is composed of 105 students in two different groups which were enrolled in the last (fourth) year of the Primary Education Teaching Degree in the University of Granada during the 2015-2016 academic year. The average age of surveyed students in the sample is 23.2, 86 % of the total sample population being between 20 and 24 years old, but with individual cases of students aged over 41. Consequently, the average matches the general age trend, with a few exceptional cases of students aged over 30.

From a wide perspective, the statistical population would be the total of people studying the last year of the Primary Education Teaching Degree in the University of Granada. Nevertheless, the sample can be said to be representative of the statistical population and its variety due to it being larger than one hundred individuals.

As the study is focused on researching the initial understanding that the students have of artistic education, as well as the connections that they establish between the subject area and audiovisual and digital culture, the survey was

handed out to two groups in two specific sessions (29th of September and 6th of October of 2015). This lessons took place before the contents of the module had been started to ensure that the module's work proposals did not influence the results of the survey. The anonymous survey stated its interest and purpose -obtaining information to adapt the module to the interests of the students- in its introductory text. It contained 48 multiple-choice questions, some of the questions having only one possible answer and always specifying if more than one answer could be given. 10 % of the questions allowed for free-response answers limited to one or two sentences when it was required by the survey.

After a set of basic information questions asking about gender, age, studies, origin, etc., the document initially focused on the block of questions titled "What do you think the module involves?" after which the next block dealt with "What are your interests?", which also included questions about audiovisual and digital use habits, as well as about social network use, and finalizing with the concept of artistic education itself. The survey took approximately 15-20 minutes to fill in.

4. Results

4.1. The interests of future teachers

One of the main purposes of the survey was to obtain information about interests specifically related to artistic education. However, we added questions about other areas to create a contrast between general interests in academic contents and other more or less connected areas. For instance, using a rating system of between 0 and 5 points, the average interest in literature in the surveyed sample is 3.6, while the interest in pedagogy is higher, with a rating of 4. General interest in art, without being related to the teaching of art, was also rated 4. Artistic education, which is clearly associated with the subject matter of the empirical context of this study, was rated 3.8 out of 5 in the survey.

To study the students' motivation regarding artistic education, it is worth noting that the average interest rating in children, specifically, children aged 6 to 12, was 4.7 out of 5. As we can see, the motivation normally seen as part of the general profile of the primary education teacher is higher than the interest in specific teaching, specifically in artistic education. The surveyed students rated their general interest in their studies with 4.4.

Regarding the specific activities that interest the surveyed students (Fig.1), the question was set in the following way: a maximum of two answers could be marked out of the 11 available, so the maximum rating that could be reached for each expressive or artistic genre was 105 points, one point for each student in the sample.

What artistic and creative genres interest you?

m o 30

o o 20

l I . . l _ l . ll

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Figure 1. Artistic or creative genres that interest you. The students had to choose 2 options. Source: original work.

Among the proposed creative genres, we can observe that there are no options selected by all the students, while photography and film particularly stand out, as they were selected by 53.3 % (56) and 40.9 % (33) of the students respectively. These two genres are followed by music, with 31.4 % (33 students). To a lesser degree, but still with considerable interest, we can find drawing and painting, the traditional lines of activity in visual art teaching, which

together represent almost half of the sample, 42.8 % (a total of 45 interested people). The interest shown for sculpting, architecture or engraving is in the minority. The same occurs with other newer contents -which are supposedly closer to young people-, such as comics or videogames, with comics being the category which attracts less attention, with only two people, while videogames interested 16.1 % of the sample. Therefore, we can find considerable interest in photography and film, followed relatively closely by the learning of drawing and painting.

Contrasting this information, another non-consecutive question in the survey also establishes a two-option limit for the student to choose what they would like to learn more as future teachers. There is a difference regarding the previous question: we are no longer talking about what artistic genres interest them, but which ones they consider more relevant to their training or, in particular, which are the artistic genres that they want to use creatively (Fig. 2). It can be seen that the distribution of the sample is quite balanced in these lines of interest, and none of the genres reaches 50 %. Thus, the most chosen option is to record a film short, with 43 interested students (40.9 %), followed by related activities such as creating animation or stop-motion videos (35 students, 33.3 %). It can be said that these two activities, belonging to a similar category, can be joined together and considered the main option for 74.3 % of the students. However, some genres more traditionally linked to the visual arts, such as drawing and painting, are still considered necessary for the training process by 54.3 % of the surveyed people.

Learning interests as future teachers

Animation or stop-motion creation Recording a short film Editing digital images Taking photos Analyzing a film Image analysis Making a comic Sculpting/Modelling Painting Drawing

10 15 20 25 30

Number of interested students

Figure 2. Artistic or creative genres that they would like to learn as future teachers. Source: original work.

4.2. Contents associated with Arts Education

The second part of the study is based on the associations that the students establish between the media and artistic education. Regarding the idea of the different activities the students consider should be part of the fourth-year module The Didactics of Visual Arts, the importance of drawing in the module is clearly and unequivocally seen, with 103 affirmative answers (98 %) against two that do not consider it an essential part of the module. Comics present a similar percentage, although it is not part of the interests of many students, as previously seen. However, the next activity that the students clearly connect with artistic education are museum visits, with 102 affirmative answers (97.1 %). This shows that these institutions are very relevant, according to the sample, when talking about art, even when they may offer contents both related and not related with visual arts. Film follows it closely, which is a subject matter related to artistic education for 100 people (95.2 %). This gives film a position above other more traditional options, such as clay modelling, with 95 (90.5 %) affirmative answers.

Media contents, such as television, gained fewer positive answers but still a considerable percentage, with 86 (81.9 %) of all the surveyed students establishing a clear link between the medium and artistic education. The press (newspapers) gained 84 votes out of 105 (80 %), even surpassing fashion, which obtained 78 (74 %) of the votes. Consequently, we can see that media contents are closely related to art education according to the Primary Education Teaching Degree students.

4.3. Interest in technology

As well as being surveyed about what is directly related with artistic education, the students were also asked about their general interest in technology, and other questions about availability and use of mobile devices and social networks in their personal communications. Only 5 % of the surveyed students did not show explicit interest in technology. As for their presence in social networks, it corresponds with the ordinary proportion shown in the more recent studies on social network use by adults (Interactive Advertising Bureau, 2016, p. 12), with some differences in the chosen social networks. Facebook leads as the students' choice, with 30 %. However, the second most used social network by future teachers is not Twitter, but Instagram, with 20 % of the total students. Twitter closely follows it with 17 %. Lastly, we can see YouTube, with 15 % and Google+, with 14 %. It is important to note that the percentage of social network use is lower compared to the population average, despite being part of what Gardner and Davis refer to as the "App Generation" (2014). In the mentioned general reports, 75 % of Internet users are on Facebook. In short, interest in technology, media availability and social network presence constitute a base that can be used to carry out further research in the relationship between visual art education and media education.

5. Discussion and conclusions

The concept of digital native (Prensky, 2001) does not define the generation that is currently graduating to become teachers in primary education. They use social networks, although in a very limited fashion, and they do not associate the possibilities of digital technologies with their activity as students as clearly as they could and, even less, with their future possibilities as teachers. However, they are interested in and care about this issue, especially everything having to do with the media aspect of images, both from the point of view of creating and analyzing them.

The results of this study point out the interest of primary education students in photography and film, even when they still agree on the need to work with drawing and painting in artistic education. The new audiovisual and digital society imposes visual culture models that can be included in the area of visual art education. However, some novel aspects, such as videogames, are not directly associated with the training that future teachers are doing.

Given their interest in technology, undeniable except for some cases in the sample, the inclusion of contents and competences pertaining to digital culture into the university training of future teachers must be considered. The students demand diverse training that combines both the traditional and newer artistic media. This should all be connected with artistic creation, giving more weight to the practical aspect of their training.

In this way, the students of the Degree, whose interest in children and the general aspects of pedagogy is undeniable, assess art-specific teaching at the same level, or higher, than their general vocation to become primary education teachers. The adaptation of artistic teaching to current times and methods is equally important for them.

Some interesting lines of work for future research in this area could entail the next step of this assessment process through more in-depth case studies. Likewise, comparative education could offer new lines of work in teacher training. In this sense, the designed survey will be continuously developed, perfected and made available for all interested members of universities to elaborate a national or international comparative analysis.

The media aspect of art, and, inversely, the artistic dimension of media literacy, require the continuous development of interdisciplinary work. In the specific case of teachers, this work becomes part of a continuous training process and, beyond aesthetic or technical matters, further develops into lifelong learning.

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