How do we as art educators help adolescents maintain artistic creation as a way of visual expression? This study reviews artistic approaches among kindergarten through eighth grade students as they relate to the U-curve model of development (Davis, 1997; Pariser & van den Berg, 1997). As an art educator, my observation has been that as students approach seventh and eighth grades they lose confidence in their art making abilities as they try to draw in a realistic manner. When asked if they think they are artists, most are certain that they are not. This lack in confidence is in stark contrast to the lower elementary students, who when asked the same question, are certain that they are artists and create in an uninhibited manner. The problem addressed in this thesis is the decline in artistic confidence in older children and ways we as art educators can help adolescents maintain artistic creation as visual expression. A survey was conducted in response to this problem that explored the artistic approaches of kindergarten through eighth grade students to address the decline of artistic activity in older children. This survey included questionnaires that were given to the seventh and eighth grade students I taught to help answer the question as to why adolescents become more inhibited and lose the desire to create art the same way they did when they were younger. The questionnaires were given to each student before and after the Core Knowledge based art curriculum asking students if they thought they were artists and how confident they were in making art. The findings showed a measurable increase in students' self-confidence as artists after experiencing a Core Knowledge based art curriculum. A review of current textbooks revealed that not enough curricula which included contemporary practices were included in many elementary and secondary art programs. Only 2 percent of the art textbooks examined included units that dealt with contemporary art and postmodern practices after 1980. Much is being taught in art history and the historical functions of art, leaving large gaps in contemporary art and postmodern practices. A Core Knowledge based art curriculum was designed in response to the ostensible demise of art making as a way of visual expression in adolescent children. Historical practices bridged with contemporary practices such as appropriation, Conceptual art, and Installation art are included in the curriculum and designed to boost students' confidence and interest in artistic creation. A Core Knowledge based art curriculum for seventh and eighth grades consists of three units: Pre-modern, Modern, and Postmodern. Three periods of time, the Renaissance, High Modernism, and Contemporary art are covered within these units. The first two lesson units, the Renaissance and High Modernism, lead up to the Contemporary art unit which includes Conceptual art and culminates in an installation piece. Each unit contains two lesson plans. The first lesson in each unit covers historical aspects of that particular era, and the second lesson ties current practices with the historical content of each specific unit. Within each unit, students explore different ways of making art through appropriation, borrowing ideas, Conceptual art, and Installation art. As students build on various concepts and learn new ways to make art, they are more able to sustain artistic creation as visual expression through new methods and materials. The three lesson units included in the Core Knowledge based curriculum are not only designed to sustain artistic creation and help students to gain self-confidence in their own abilities, but also to gain a better understanding of the contemporary art world around them. Students' understandings are broadened as they learn about the artists and art movements from previous eras and their connections to artists, ideas, and art movements today.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts



Date Submitted


Document Type





core knowledge based curriculum, seventh and eighth graders, artistic confidence



Included in

Art Practice Commons