Can curriculum art lessons develop adolescents’ healthy self-esteem, emotional wellbeing, better relationships and art grades?

  • Victoria Rosemary Barron

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis discusses how art lessons, within the national curriculum, can be enhanced to develop a healthy self-esteem, in terms of sense of self, sense of relatedness to others, and improved artistic creativity, of pupils aged 12 to 13 years, whilst also improving their art grades.

    A mixed methodology is framed within a pragmatist theoretical perspective, recognising my roles as artist, teacher and researcher. Using what works practically within the situation in question, reveals changing truths observed from the pupils’ perspectives and my multiple roles.

    An intervention group received additional teaching within their usual art lessons; a control group did not. The additional teaching included guided group questioning around specific artists lives, (selected because the artists’ life stories were discussed through their art work) followed by pupils’ intrapersonal questioning, reflection, artmaking, and group discussion. Quantitative data were collected from both groups, whilst qualitative data were collected from the intervention group.

    The findings from the analysis of quantitative data revealed a non-significant self-esteem decrease with a limited amount of individual self-esteem increases over time in both groups. The intervention group data revealed a significant association effect between pupils who gained self-esteem and increased grade changes. There was no association between self-esteem and change in relationship, yet; significant comparable changes were seen between the two groups, upon the pupils’ whole school examination period. The qualitative analysis revealed shifts in self-esteem and confidence illustrated by pupils’ positive changes to their thought processes, art creations and behaviour. Pupils translated thoughts and ideas into art creations whilst also expressing their own life experiences and enhanced understanding of others’ lives (peers and artists). Pupil in-depth studies provided mixed-method data, which was analysed, interpreted and made accessible through a story-board of sequential art images. These findings revealed the pupils’ shifts in thinking about themselves in relation to self-esteem, wellbeing, self-awareness and relatedness.

    The study findings, framed within a conceptual framework draw upon how educational creativity, including discussion of artists’ life experiences, offered pupils new ways of thinking, behaving and creating art work. This resulted in stability of esteem, increased grades, positive group experiences and positive individual pupil actions, within usual art lessons. The implications of this study will provide direction for future research and art teaching practitioners and has been disseminated in conferences and presentations from 2012 to 2018 (See Volume 2, Appendix 1, P4).
    Date of AwardApr 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorKatherine Wimpenny (Supervisor), Julia Carroll (Supervisor) & Sarah Kate Merry (Supervisor)

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