Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Art Education (K-12), M.S.Ed.


Art Education Department


Dr. Shirley Hayes

Department Home page


With my background in Graphic Design, I wondered how the images and structures of visual culture were understood and used inside the art classroom. I analyzed 32 of 40 anonymous questionnaires returned from select art teachers throughout western New York. The questions used were geared toward finding the participants’ definitions and knowledge of visual culture, how they felt visual culture affected their students, and how they could teach using visual culture. I compared these anonymous responses to the data from observations and semi-structured interviews of a middle and secondary art teacher who said they used visual culture in their art teaching.

The findings produced from the data showed a variety of definitions of visual culture, as well as differences in the methods and techniques that the two participating teachers used to incorporate visual culture in their teaching. The data seemed to fall into two categories of physical and personal influences of visual culture with teachers’ advocacy for visual culture playing a large role in its use. The better defined ideas that emerged from the data were teachers’ use of visual culture in concept-based lessons that affect student perception, how playing the role of devil’s advocate influences student perspective, how visual culture can bring greater awareness of the outside world or the environment to students, and the potential for greater teacher-student connections by using visual culture. Along with these ideas came a variety of suggestions from the questionnaires of how visual culture could be used as a motivational tool or a hook.

The important concepts I learned from this research is that the teacher-student connection and trust is essential to the success of the student and the teacher in their learning. A concept based lesson may allow for more in depth discussion and critique, allowing for a larger connection by the student because of the overall idea that binds it together. Lastly, I found a need for the definition of visual culture to have a more solid foundation. The research shows that the definitions produced were similar but still coming from a variety of different sources with no one thing to staple it down.

For further research I would recommend collecting perspectives from more teachers and more time for observations. I would also recommend getting the students’ perspectives in future studies.