Date of Award


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Degree Name

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


Art Education Department


Dr. Shirley Hayes

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This basic qualitative research examined the question, “What aspects of constructivism can be found in a kindergarten through second grade art classroom?” Over an eight to ten week period, I investigated a kindergarten, first, and second grade class of an elementary art teacher who did not identify herself as a constructivist teacher, but claimed to incorporate as many constructivist aspects as possible. I interpreted the data collected through a constructivist lens in order to record the implementation of aspects of constructivist practices and explore the variety of verbal and visual responses of the teacher and students. Data collection methods included interviews, observations, and document analysis. As data analysis occurred the following three categories emerged: 1) challenges in implementing aspects of constructivism; 2) student empowerment: teacher expectations and student responses; and 3) teacher limitations and student responses. This art teacher encountered issues of time constraints, school budget, and state standards that had an affect on the amount of constructivist practices she could incorporate into the classroom.

One overriding conclusion to this study was how that this art teacher understood little of the theory of constructivism yet practiced some of the tenets. This art teacher needed to achieve a sense of balance between structure and artistic freedom, in order for K-2 students to become empowered in the art classroom and to have a meaningful experience while creating their artwork. Artistic freedom relates to constructivism as Brooks and Brooks (1996) called for, the active construction of meaning through the teacher placing in the students’ hands, “the exhilarating power to follow trails of interest, to make connections, to reformulate ideas, and to reach unique conclusions” (p. 22). Lastly, I found that the underlying challenge facing this art teacher in effectively implementing aspects of constructivism into their K-2 classes was, the lack of modeling and resources available. Additionally, more research needs to be done in order to make improvements in implementing constructivism in art education classrooms.

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