Defining Concepts in Your Discipline: An Activity for Students

Dr Shari Stoddard
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Students come to our classes with predetermined definitions of the concepts we teach and terms we use. We can not assume that because we give them our definitions of these concepts and terms they will embrace them and replace their previously learned knowledge. With this premise in mind, participants in this workshop will experience the following activity and then discuss how they could use this activity to define terms and concepts commonly used in their own discipline.

The activity begins by recognizing beliefs and knowledge already held by the participants. While looking at twenty objects, participants are asked to independently decide whether or not the objects are art or not art. Next the activity exposes participants to the ideas of a few other people. By listening to and considering other people's statements, participants are not only exposed to new information, they also have a new context in which to re-examine their own ideas and beliefs. The activity then involves a discussion with the entire group, examining concepts, terms, etc. The end result is a workable definition of the terms or concepts as defined by the group. If used in a classroom situation students would then be asked to compare the group's definition to a literature review of the terms and concepts within the discipline. Another class discussion would occur following the students' findings.

Keywords: Defining Terms and Concepts, Constructivist Learning
Stream: Arts, Drama and Design
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Defining Concepts in Your Discipline

Dr Shari Stoddard

Associate Professor, Visual Art Teaching, Central Washington University

I have been the director of Art Education in the Department of Art at Central Washington University since 2000. My Ph.D. is in Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate area in Art Education from Indiana University. My M.S. degree is from Indiana University in Art Education, and I received a B.F.A. from the University of Michigan in Oil Painting and Ceramics. Previously I taught at Ball State University and the University of South Carolina. I have presented at international, national, regional, and local conferences on topics such as including aesthetics and art criticism in elementary school curricula, cooperative learning strategies, and reflective thinking. I received the 2001-2003 Western Region Binney & Smith Crayola Dream-Maker Grant, and in 1998-1999 the Mary McMullan Teacher Incentive Grant from the National Art Education Foundation. My chapter Including Aesthetics in a Second Grade Curriculum: It Can Be Done has recently been published in the book Teaching Art in Context: Case Studies For Preservice Art Teachers.

Ref: L05P0730