• Don't Just Sit There: Student Engagement and Undergraduate Research

      Blair, Greg
      This presentation will focus on two interrelated questions encountered while teaching university art lecture and art studio courses. The first of these is how to increase the engagement of students with course content. The second is how to encourage undergraduate students to start developing their own research. This discussion will review how engagement and research can be inspired, in both art lecture and art studio style courses, as well as for introductory or advanced art students. The strategies presented in this discussion have mainly been developed from self-reflection, self-assessment, and student feedback but also draw upon some of the literature on student engagement and active learning. These strategies can be described as participatory, experiential, and student-centered because they shift the student experience into a more responsive and responsible role. This shift is similar to what David Lapotto has described as gains in individual development, including the growth of self-confidence, independence of work and thought, and a sense of accomplishment. Within the context of the education of an artist this effect can lead to the further development of their individual voice, vision, and artistic practice. One of the main strategies that I have employed to increase student engagement in art lectures courses is experiential learning or situated cognition. Some examples include getting students outside of the classroom so that they can physically perform for themselves some of the difference artworks and theories that we have studied. Another example includes field trips, maybe right on campus, in which students experience firsthand some of the concepts and artistic principles that we have recently discussed in class. In terms of promoting undergraduate research in art studio courses, for introductory courses, I introduce students to different methods of doing artistic research such as data mining. This serves to expand their understanding of the possibilities for developing their own artistic practice. For more advanced students, I encourage doing research by asking the students to develop self-directed projects with a focus on certain methodologies. As the students shift toward solely working on their own research interests, they begin to feel more ownership for what they are doing. Through this sense of ownership, their engagement begins to increase. These implemented strategies have impacted student experience and success through both anecdotal evidence and demonstrable outcomes. These include less absenteeism, better test scores, better conceptual development, and higher levels of retention. Passion and enthusiasm are certainly helpful in increasing engagement but by experimenting with some of the strategies that I have used in my own courses such as the flipped classroom, art making as a social activity, situated cognition, and educational constructivism, perhaps other faculty will also experience a positive impact on their pedagogical development and the success of their students. References Bonwell,, Charles C. and James A. Eison, Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. 1991 ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports, ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, The George Washington University, 1991, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED336049.pdf Hall, Joshua, 3 Ways to Encourage Independent Undergraduate Research, Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, September 19, 2016, https://theihs.org/blog/3-waysencourage-independent-undergraduate-research/ Himmelsbach, Vawn, 19 Student Engagement Strategies to Start with in Your Course, Top Hat, May 17, 2019 Khoo, Shaun, How to make undergraduate research worthwhile, Nature, Career Column 14, November 2018, https://www.nature.com/nature/articles?type=career-column Lopatto, David, Undergraduate Research as a High-Impact Student Experience, Association of American Colleges & Universities, peerReview, Spring 2010, Vol. 12, No. 2, https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/undergraduate-research-high-impactstudent-experience