Journal directory listing - Volume 67 (2022) - Journal of Research in Education Sciences【67(1)】March

Inquiries Into School-level Factors Influencing the Development of Art Elective Courses
Author: Yu-Hsiang Chen (M.F.A Program / Art Education, National Taiwan Normal University)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 67, No. 1
Date:March 2022

Background and Motivation
Art education facilitates individuals to understand the meaning and practice of aesthetic experiences, which is essential to a well-rounded education. However, art elective courses in secondary schools are in fact in decline and marginalized in recent years. The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) investigated the number of students taking at least one art course for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) during 2015-16 in the UK and found that the percentage had fallen to 53.5% (BBC News, 2018; NSEAD, 2016). By the same token, researchers from the different countries also worried about the development and availability of art courses in school in the face of marginalization due to school location, school size, shortage of art teachers, and the lack of equipment (Chapman et al., 2018; Fitzpatrick, 2012; Meyer, 2005).
Owing to the complexity of the operational level of curriculum decision-making (Goodlad, 1979; Marsh et al., 1990), school-focused curriculum development often results in multi-faceted factors influencing art education. Some research has indicated that art curricula in development at school levels have been negatively influenced by school size and the lack of full-time art teachers (Chapman et al., 2018; Elpus, 2020). The discrepancy between art education in public and private schools has also been an argument of the current study, with results showing that art courses in American public high schools significantly provided more art courses than those in private ones (Elpus, 2020). Furthermore, given that the practice of school curricula requires the support of material contexts, including space and other resources for teachers’ discussion and practice, funds, and equipment are especially needed for art courses (Chapman et al., 2018; Fitzpatrick, 2012). With these factors worth exploring, the study aims to address the influence of school-level factors on the development of art elective courses in senior high schools in Taiwan. The research questions are: (1) What is the relationship between the school-level factors and the development of art elective courses? (2) How do art teachers view the school-level factors’ influence on art elective courses?
A mixed-methods design was adopted in this study. The questionnaire survey was first sent to collect the data of high school background factors and the development of art elective courses in Taiwan, followed by stratified sampling for in-depth interviews with art teachers on their perception and participation in school art electives courses development. The Chi-square test of independence was applied for the data analysis of the questionnaire to examine the correlation between school-level factors and the offering of art elective courses. Interviews were transcribed and gradually categorized with the meaningful data from open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. Evidence was examined to form the conclusions and recommendations.
Result and Discussion
Descriptive analysis indicated that the ratio of schools not offering art elective courses was higher than the offering ones. In addition, the ratio of schools offering art enrichment and expanded elective courses exceeded the ones offering art elective courses. With the use of Chi-square test of independence, the results showed that the offering of art enrichment and expanded elective courses correlated to the availability of art talent class within the school, whereas the offering of art elective courses was respectively associated with the factors of school size, public/private school system, and the existence of art talent class in school. Overall, it revealed heterogeneity factors among schools is worth heeding. In particular, the offering of art elective courses in schools of small size accounts for a significantly lower ratio, reflecting the influence of the shortage of art teachers and the pressure of maintaining faculty stability on the development of art elective courses. Therefore, the positive correlation between the existence of art talent classes and the development of art elective courses within a school results from art teachers’ diverse professions and the sufficiency of the fundamental art equipment. Schools with at least an art talent class offer more art enrichment and expanded elective courses or art elective courses than those without, which shows that in addition to art courses per se, the development of art courses also has the specific need of teaching resources and equipment. Furthermore, past studies have shown similar results that art elective courses offered in public schools significantly outnumbered those in private schools, the interview data illustrate that due to social context factors in Taiwan, schools are in the face of challenges from sub-replacement fertility and pressure of high competitiveness. During the curriculum development, that the school administrative adopting strategies beneficial for students’ college enrollment or transferring school resources to emphasize school features has highlighted the criticality of developing school features as well as the role art elective courses play in school positioning.
Conclusion and Suggestions
The research finding indicate the development of school-level art elective courses is affected by the common factors of the social environment concerning students’ career development and higher education enrollment rates. The development of the art multiple elective courses is more related to the school size, equipment, and developing features and other heterogeneous factors of each school. Art teachers focus on professional enhancement and enrichment of related equipment, clarify the positioning of the school in the exam success-oriented environment and establish the role and value of art elective courses. Based on the research results, considering the relatively high quantity and density of colleges in Taiwan, it is suggested that schools collaborate with neighboring schools and connect to the local community for art resources so as to enhance the availability of resources and instructors needed for art elective courses. In addition, as the development of art elective courses encompasses the skill-specific feature and diverse, cross-disciplinary learning content, when meeting the learner competence-based educational trend and clarifying the role of art elective courses in school, value of art elective courses will thus be accentuated. This research addresses the relationship between school-level factors and the development of art elective courses. However, owning to the complexity of school factors, it is suggested that relevant research in the future further analyze the development of art elective courses in schools through multilevel analysis method, or continue to inquire the cases of the development of art elective courses in school in-depth.

Keywords:curriculum development, school-based curriculum, school-level factors, art education, art elective courses

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APA FormatChen, Y.-H. (2022). Inquiries Into School-level Factors Influencing the Development of Art Elective Courses. Journal of Research in Education Sciences, 67(1), 291-318.