Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Education




Dr. Kathryn Hibbert


This study explored the pedagogical practices that fostered engagement for seven participants with physical disabilities and in some cases multiple exceptionalities who successfully earned a credit in a high school Visual Arts course. It answered the key question: What can art educators learn from students' stories of art education that would better enable art educators to enact a pedagogy that engages students with disabilities in the Visual Arts classroom? A narrative inquiry methodology was employed to gather stories and art work from these key informants acting as active agents in their own storied responses that were triangulated with field notes from the researcher’s own “lived-experience” and the literature surrounding the topic. The researcher draws from literacy engagement theory purporting that art is a language that can be used to engage students with physical disabilities if careful consideration is given to media employed, contemporary art education practices, teacher and student relationship including the teacher’s perspective of students with disabilities, and Universal Design for Learning concepts in classroom organization. Due to the fine motor control issues, students with disabilities in this study prefer more fluid media involved in the discipline of sculpture, painting, printmaking, or new media to create projects where the subject matter and artistic expression are ultimately self-determined. The findings of this thesis may be applied to all subject areas as they indicate that the teacher’s capacity to communicate effectively, have a flexible approach to accommodating curriculum content, possess problem-solving ability, and a positive personality, can be linked with student engagement for exceptional students in the classroom.

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