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Action Research in Art Education: Overview

Context: museum, school

Audience: K-8 teachers

Big ideas: distributed research, professional networks, advanced professional development in art integration

Rather than the typical museum offering of teacher professional development workshops, this would be an extended (1- to 2-year) institute for teachers to learn art-integration strategies and then develop and implement their own action research projects in their own classrooms.

This would look very much like (or could, in fact, be) a high-quality, graduate course offered by a university education department.

The originating idea

This idea was conceived as a form of "distributed" research in arts in education. Though individual teachers are conducting their own research projects, they form a part of a larger community of research-practitioners that are focused on the investigation of a broader research question.

The museum's role

Apart from being the program's primary facilitator, the museum also brings expertise in inquiry-based learning in visual art. Through partnership with local graduate school faculty, the museum also brings expertise in K-8 teaching and educational research methodologies.

Concurrent with the classroom-based research and professional development program, the museum will also conduct ongoing research in continuing education for teachers as well as museum-based cross-domain integration.

A rough timeline

This program could take a wide variety of forms, so this is just an example of a timeline that might work.

Summer course

A unique, month-long summer course in art integration practices and classroom research methodologies.

By the end of summer, teachers develop individual research projects to be implemented over the course of the year.

Fall and spring semesters

Teachers conduct their research and meet online and in-person to check in and receive support.


Teachers present their research to each other and the public in early summer.

Opportunities for extension

Some teachers may continue as advisors or mentors for a second year. Additionally, some research may lead to additional questions or opportunities for further study or publication.