Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

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


Art Education Department


Shirley Hayes

Department Home page



After my first years of teaching art within a school that perpetuated a deficit paradigm, I was one of two graduate students who taught with two professors in an alternative site at a community center with urban youth from ages 7-17 years. We enacted an assets model that sought to strengthen learners' artistic thinking. Using qualitative participatory action research, I began a study of the teaching practices of Ruth, one of the art educators, to find what happens when an assets model that strengthens learner's artistic thinking is infused into the goals of an after-school visual arts program. I collected data from a variety of sources that included transcriptions of the educator's instruction, notes from meetings and reflective interviews, field notes, and photographs of artmaking. My analysis of Ruth's teaching approeaches revealed how an assets pedagogy aligns with contemporary artistic practices as Ruth guided youth to take on the artistic process for themselves. A conversational pedagogy emerged in which she translated a concept-based curriculum to youth's live experiences thorugh working alongside youth and incorporating personal narratives into artistic learning experiences. My findings illustrate themes found in this assets-based teaching: translating learning concepts and processes, playing and personally connecting with youth, discovering alongside learners, and honing learner's pride and resiliency. These themes are reflective of the symbiotic relationship formed when building on youth strengths and building artistic thinking that strengthens the ideas and imagination that all youth possess. My research supported the benefits of employing an assets-based paradigm to engage youth in artistic thinking.