In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Art Education

  • Introduction
  • Aesthetic Development and Critique
  • Art Integration
  • Avatars and Video Games
  • Mode of Content Delivery
  • Arts-Based Research
  • Art Teacher Training
  • Art Teaching by Generalist Teachers and Teaching Artists
  • Assessment and Evaluation in the Arts
  • Cognition and Art Education
  • Community-Based Art Education/Art Education Partnerships
  • Creativity
  • Ecological and Environmental Concerns
  • Female Perspectives
  • Historical Perspectives
  • Multicultural Art Education
  • Museum-Based Art Education
  • Semiotics and Metaphor
  • Social Justice and Social Theory
  • Special Needs
  • Visual Culture Art Education
  • Visual Literacy

Education Art Education
Cathy Smilan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 August 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0004


This bibliography contains a selection of papers and volumes on themes under discussion in the field of art education. The topics presented here are but a sampling of issues that noted scholars consider to be essential to the progress of art, design, and aesthetics education as core curricula. As art educators teach art technique and process along with artistic analysis, gaining an understanding of the historical development of the field as well as a foundation in aesthetic theory and methods of critique is essential. The literature discussed delves into aesthetic inquiry, guiding readers to develop a transformative analysis of art. The literature also offers a historical foundation of art education, providing the basis for teaching art processes and techniques as well as the ability to appreciate and interpret art in and out of school. Historical perspectives on art education, from its beginning in public schools in which drawing and drafting are taught, to the development of expressive media and children’s natural artistic development, to the focus on discipline-based art education, through contemporary art education and visual-culture studies, have pervaded the arts education literature. With the ever-increasing call for measuring learning to justify expenditures, assessment and evaluation in art education have become important topics of concern and debate. Art educators advocate for a holistic review of learning, and the field acknowledges the pressure to measure learning objectives in the arts based on content standards. Many other disciplines within education are looking to the arts to guide in the development of process-folio and portfolio assessments. Literature and commentary in the field of art education consider the pros and cons of teachers who are also artists, teaching artists, and the advocacy for having certified art teachers in schools. The potential goals and conflicts of interest make for interesting discussion; the reports of student engagement and advancement suggest the need to continue with such discussions. Teaching art and art research from the female perspective is another important topic in art education literature. Because an overwhelming percentage of art educators are women, it is all the more salient that art education considers the perspectives of women in the development of the field. As an often-disenfranchised group, female artists and art educators give voice to issues of gender inequities as well as social and political issues that affect women and others who are placed in real or perceived minority situations. Students with special needs is one such category in the literature, as in life. Finally, the study of visual literacy and visual culture is permeating the literature; perhaps, this field is essentially arriving back at where it started—learning to see, translate, and communicate the visual stimulus of our world.

Aesthetic Development and Critique

An important aspect of art education is the development of an aesthetic philosophy and the ability to critique one’s own artwork as well as that of other artists. Discipline-based art education, no longer prescriptive practice in Western schools, included aesthetics and critique as essential components. The field of art education continues to recognize these aspects as priorities and strives to include them in a complete art-learning experience. Barrett 2008, Bresler 2006, and Greene and Lincoln Center Institute 2001 consider the importance of learning to see and translating the experience of seeing to make connections with one’s life and one’s world.

  • Barrett, Terry. 2008. Why is that art? Aesthetics and criticism of contemporary art. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Barrett introduces readers to multiple philosophical perspectives on art, particularly addressing aesthetic concerns about contemporary works and the rationale behind art creation, viewing, and critique. He applies philosophical questions and aesthetic measures to challenge various works and to discuss triumphs and shortcomings in concepts, techniques, and artistic vision. Criteria for evaluating artwork and exploring content, context, and meaning to challenge assumptions are presented.

  • Bresler, Liora. 2006. Toward connectedness: Aesthetically based research studies in art education. Studies in Art Education 48.1 (Fall): 52–69.

    Core relationships among aesthetics, art making, and qualitative research, including the space in which each occur, are fueled by the artist/researcher’s ability to perceive, translate, and transform work and self. Artistic process and research practice become aesthetic encounters in this “tri-directional relationship.” Available online for purchase.

  • Doren, Mariah. 2010. Re-thinking critique: Questioning the standards, rethinking the format, engaging meanings constructed in context. In 20Under40: Re-Inventing the Arts and Arts Education for the 21st Century. Edited by Edward P. Clapp, 126–141. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

    Discussion of the cross purposes of traditional critique techniques and the transformative discovery of individual and contextual meaning in artwork.

  • Greene, Maxine, and Lincoln Center Institute. 2001. Variations on a blue guitar: The Lincoln Center Institute lectures on aesthetic education. New York: Teachers College Press.

    A collection of lectures from the Lincoln Center Institute share insights on aesthetic development and educational renewal through imagination and transformation. Concepts include new ways of seeing and experiencing the arts, embodied meaning, and multiple visions of the aesthetic. Personal transactions with works of art and performances are considered contextually with respect to the move away from formalist approaches to arts and aesthetics education.

  • Lankford, E. Louis. 1992. Aesthetics: Issues and inquiry. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

    A handbook of strategies for applying aesthetic theory in art classes. Issues include introductory aesthetic development and progress through complex forms of aesthetic inquiry.

  • Sandell, Renee. 2009. Using form+theme+context (FTC) for rebalancing 21st-century art education. Studies in Art Education 50.3 (Spring): 287–299.

    The need to expand art-curricular experiences to fully engage with the visual world is presented, using form+theme+context as an approach to the integration and creation of visual imagery. Available online for purchase.

  • Smith, Ralph Alexander, ed. 2001. Aesthetics and criticism in art education: Problems in defining, explaining, and evaluating art. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

    Seminal work introducing the essential nature of teaching for the development of aesthetic sensibilities and critical abilities in the art education classroom. An early precursor to the inclusion of art history, aesthetics, and critique in discipline-based art education, Smith’s work details the interrelationships of these aspects of art with the art-making process. Reprinted in 2001.

  • Tavin, Kevin. 2007. Eyes wide shut: The use and uselessness of the discourse of aesthetics in art education. Art Education, o.s. 60.2 (March): 40–45.

    Discusses issues of how aesthetics are considered and taught as a delivery system for teacher-generated content rather than cultural/psychological investment on the part of the learner/viewer. Tavin suggests that aesthetic discourse, with presuppositions and established values, detracts from the work of teachers and students in viewing, interpreting, and finding meaning in art. Available online for purchase.

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