Department Chair

Shirley Hayes

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

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


Art Education Department


Shirley Hayes

Department Home page


I have conducted a qualitative action research project focusing on student perceptions of the impact of visual culture on teens including popular media. Students especially in high schools are bombarded with visual imagery through various technology sources. While working with high school juniors and seniors I noticed a rise in teen pregnancy and sexual confusion among this population. I wondered how much their exposure to sexually explicit imagery effected their identity and choices.

I started off planning research through a feminist and engaged pedagogical lens, specifically adhering to bell hook’s (1994) principals of “holistic teaching”, which focuses on emotional as well as curricular needs of students (p. 20). I documented the study through the use of a field journal in which I kept copious notes during class and individual discussions. Students filled out questionnaires, kept a reflective journal, and created artwork, all of which served as documentation of my findings.

My goal was to find what these perceptions of visual culture and popular media are; how the use of text and narrative could help teens reflect on personal issues, and to discern how teens feel about the portrayal of their generation in the media. Before conducting this research I presumed that the promiscuity shown in media outlets that are geared toward teens was a true reflection of what a typical teen would seek to emulate. This is not the case with the students in this study. According to this group, teens are not nearly as promiscuous as they are depicted in popular media. That stereotype does exist and some are more influenced by what they see than others, but students made it clear that they felt this was not the norm.