Ibis 2012 t. stubblefield


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Ibis 2012 t. stubblefield

  1. 1. Assessing the Effectiveness of Discussion Boards in Building Formal Analysis Skills Thomas Stubblefield, Ph.D. Department of Art History University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth 5/15/2013
  2. 2. Course Overview: ARH 125 “Renaissance to Modern Art” is designed to give the student a familiarity with the major artists and movements of the history of art from the Renaissance to Impressionism. Along the way, students gain an appreciation of the aesthetic values behind the art of Western cultures as well as an understanding of the historical, sociopolitical and religious context in which this work was produced. In addition, the course introduces fundamental concepts of the discipline of art history and looking at art in general.
  3. 3. Online Tools and Assessment Methods: The targeted SLO for this project is: “analyze the formal elements of a work of art using the proper vocabulary of the discipline.” In order to build formal analysis skills, I integrated 4 discussion boards into the first 6 weeks of the course. These discussion questions drew upon concepts introduced from assigned readings and also asked students to consider formal elements and their significance in a given set of images. The requirements for this assignments specified that students must respond to at least one other post in order to create a dialogue between members of the class.
  4. 4. Examples Online Discussion #2 Working in groups of 3-5, gather a handful of images from a given period (Renaissance, Romanticism, Mannerism, NeoClassicism, Abstra ct Expressionism, Pop Art, etc.) and try to write your own “Canon of Proportions” based on these images. Online Discussion #4 Using a map, a Renaissance painting and a Chinese silk painting describes the three different systems of spaces that each image uses. What is gained and lost in the transcription of space to a two-dimensional surface in each case? How does the progressive or teleological narrative of Art History define these differences?
  5. 5. At the end of week 6, students were given their first exam. In order to measure the effect of the use of online discussion board on the targeted learning outcome, I isolated those multiple choice questions which pertained to formal analysis and compared the performance of students to a previous semester when online discussion boards were not utilized. 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 Question 1 Question 2 Question 3 Percentage Correct Among Students Who Did Not Work With Discussion Boards (Fall 2011) Percentage Correct Among Students Who Did Work With Discussion Boards (Fall 2012)
  6. 6. In addition to multiple choice questions, I also analyzed performance on short essay questions called “unknowns.” For these essays I show the students a work of art that we have not seen in class and ask them to decide not only on a date and period, but, more importantly, to justify their answer with comparisons and formal analysis. The results from this exercise are as follows: 86.6 86.8 87 87.2 87.4 87.6 87.8 88 "Unkowns" Exercise Average Grade for Students Who Did Not Work With Discussion Boards (Fall 2011) Average Grade for Students Who Did Work With Discussion Boards (Fall 2012)
  7. 7. Data Analysis / Conclusions In terms of the multiple choice questions, the digital group shows a slight but consistent improvement relative to their offline counterparts. This reflects a larger dynamic that I observed in class whereby students seemed more comfortable and adept in analyzing the visual elements of images than in previous semesters. In addition, students indicated that they enjoyed doing the online discussions and that reading the posts of other students helped clarify their own ideas about the assigned essays. The collective nature of the discussion board also helped to drive home the depth and complexity of this mode of analysis as students began to bring together the ideas of their peers in order to make larger interpretations beyond their own individual responses. The fact that the “unknowns” do not show the same improvement may be attributable to the fact that these questions rely upon writing and argumentative skills which the multiple choice questions do not. Formal analysis is, in this context, only part of the final computation. As the course is primarily comprised of Freshmen, these skills vary widely and can influence a student’s performance on this portion of the test.