Wanted: Alchemist, Leprechaun, or Scholar

They’re always after me well-formulated research questions!

This St. Paddy’s Day I’m still on a quest for my pot of gold.  I need a solid research question upon which to base the rest of my studies in the UFARTED program.  Help from an alchemist, leprechaun, or scholar would be most appreciated.

Hopefully some of these questions are more answerable.  The tricky part will be inserting research methods into my madness.

1.  What makes an art activity “play”, “work”, or both?

I want to research the difference that fun makes in learning, but perhaps I could narrow it down by trying to pinpoint what makes an art activity “play”, “work” or both.

I imagine doing this by creating several art assignments, implementing them, and asking students whether what they just did was play, work, or both.  I would also ask what parts of the assignment were “play” and what parts were “work”.  I would also ask the students for their definitions of “play” and “work” and collect a list of adjectives and connotations for each.

2. How can an art educator build curriculum around the human drive to play?

The product/answer to this research would be a curriculum created in response to research in the literature about play, learning, and art making.   It might also involve observation of free play and lesson plans structured around the tendencies of students engaged in free play.  Lessons would be executed and qualitative data about the students’ experience would be gathered.

3.  Does playful art making engage a student’s emotions, and if so, how?

First I would need to develop lesson plans that encourage playful art making.  Through observation, I would gather qualitative data to determine whether or not a student has engaged in play during the art lesson, then interview them about the things they felt as they completed the lesson.  This is something that I could alternatively test out on myself by engaging in playful art making and assessing my emotional responses throughout.


Humans are driven to play.
Play and work can happen at the same time.
Playful art making probably engages one’s emotions.
Play should be embedded in the art classroom.
Play and learning are connected.


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