Another old essay – this time about kids and…

I came across another old essay that I thought I would share.

I wrote this as I was doing my teacher training and had a real issue with attitudes towards drawing that I was coming across in classrooms. I still have an issue with it and some of the work in the essay is still highly relevant.

I’ll apologise now for any strange syntax errors in the essay as I’m presenting it as originally submitted, minus results tables and appendixes.

Anyway here’s some light Friday afternoon reading for you:

A case study of attitudes towards representational drawing in a year nine (Children aged 13-14) class:

How do attitudes towards representational drawing effect motivation within the art class?


Drawing is an activity that is common place in many art classrooms, yet despite this pupils can develop attitudes that they are no good at drawing. This case study looks at the attitudes towards drawing within a year nine class (ages 13 -14), examining their motivation, confidence and their belief of if they are good at the subject. This is achieved through using two questionnaires and a series of observations as to how the class responded to set tasks. Further to this the study questions if pupils would prefer other activities to drawing and examines the reasons given.


Drawing is an activity that is common place within many art classrooms, and often forms the basis of many projects regardless of the medium the project’s final piece will be created in (Coutts and Dougall, 2005). Despite this emphasis on drawing in the classroom pupils, at times, develop negative attitudes to drawing and adopt an attitude that they are ‘no good at drawing’ (Anning, 1999) and become unmotivated. Through this study I intend to explore the relationship between representational drawing and motivation within the art class.

For the purpose of this study representational drawing will be defined as a model of drawing which focuses on the recreation of an object on the page in a photographic like manner, an ideal which many young people strive for (Anning, 1999 and Lowenfeld, 7th Edition, 1982).

Literature review

Drawing, traditionally, plays a central role within Art curriculum (Coutts and Dougall, 2005 and Petherbridge, 2008), this is reflected in the examination criteria at GCSE (QCA, 2007). The current assessment criteria for GCSE examination places an emphasis on the ability to record from primary sourced material, with a quarter of all marks available for the ‘recording’ and research of sources under current criteria (QCA, 2007), this is often interpreted as drawing from a still life or from life by teachers, despite that criteria does not specifically mention the need for these observations and recordings to be produced through a drawing medium. Due to this interpretation of assessment criteria the ‘ability’ to draw is central to school art, and within school art departments is often seen as the starting point for many projects (Coutts and Dougall, 2005, p.139).

Drawing is an intrinsic activity that all children partake in (Matthews, 1994) and is an important meaning making activity which children use to express ideas and develop understanding (Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996 and Kress, 1997, 2003). Matthews argues that from the initial moment children make marks, perhaps with food or other nearby materials, these made marks are deliberate. This may be initially for the kinaesthetic joy of mark making (Anning, 1999), but over time this will become more and more deliberate and eventually come to display expressive and representational modes of thought (Matthews, 1999, p. 21). Eisner (1997) echoes these thoughts as he places drawing as an important way in which young children learn to communicate.

Kellog (1970) devised a series of stages which illustrate the artistic development of the individual, starting at scribble (ages 2 – 3 years) through to pictures (seven onwards) at this latter stage we can see the continued development of the child in age based stages through Burt’s (1921) research. Gardner et al. (1975) and Lowenfeld (7th Edition, 1982) also place artistic development within age related models. However it is dangerous to approach artistic development within children as being defined by age as other factors can hinder or speed up development. One such other factor is the use of additional tuition or the formality of the art lesson. Cox et al.’s (1999) comparison of drawings produced in China and the UK would appear to support this. The Chinese art curriculum, as reported by Winner (1989) heavily consists of copying from two dimensional sources to transfer skills. Also in Chinese urban areas weekend art schools offering further tuition are common. It was only the Chinese pupils that had extra tuition in the art schools that produced higher quality work than UK students. This would appear to give some further credit that at a base level artistic development does happen uniformly unless further social factors (such as additional lessons) are permitted.

In the United Kingdom it is expected, by teachers, that children will conform to producing drawings that are based in western traditions of realism and photographic like reproduction. Children are expected to conform to ‘Western conventions of base-line, occlusion, perspective and a single viewpoint’ (Anning, 1999, p.170). Despite this children receive very little instruction in how to conform to these conventions (Anning, 1999) – as teacher’s at primary level often put ‘errors’ in tasks (usually an error in observation or recreation from memory) down to ‘artistic licence’ (Anning and Ring, 2004). Whilst instruction on how to draw is scarce, being told what to draw and detailed instruction of how to draw can improve drawing performance (Barret et al., 1985, Davis, 1983, Davis and Bentley, 1984). Due to a hierarchy of forms of communication, art is often marginalised in the school time table (Anning, 2008) and therefore children receive little instruction on the technical aspects of drawing to which they are expected to conform. The lack of instruction can cause a decrease in engagement with the activity (Gardner, 1989).

Those struggling without precise instruction of how to draw can develop feelings of inadequacy towards the task and the attitude that they are ‘no good at drawing’ can begin to emerge (Anning, 1999). Pupils begin to doubt their abilities in art at ages 11 -12 years old (Pavlou, 2006). Children, at this age, become more self conscious and aware of their own shortcomings in art (Lowenfeld, 7th edition, 1982). The development of negative feelings towards art and the ‘no good at drawing’ attitude is likely to limit learning within art and cause indifference towards the subject of art (Pavlou, 2006). As these feelings emerge children can abandon mark making in favour of other communication techniques (Anning, 1999).

Indifference and self consciousness often appear simultaneously; or rather indifference is used as an excuse for self consciousness and fear of failure (Pavlou, 2006). As Pavlou (2006) reports children often respond that activities are boring before offering that actually they weren’t sure how well they would be able to do the activity (pp. 196 – 197). These pupils often had many unfinished works – they felt that the works produced were not up to the necessary standard, illustrating that the level of engagement with the task, i.e. how quickly boredom sets in, relates to perceptions of ability.

Due to lack of instruction children must teach themselves the graphic modes of communication that we expect and model their artistic development through their social environment – starting with modelling family members before moving to peer group modelling (Hopperstad, 2008). Anning (1999) elaborates, it is through the encouragement of others that children develop an accepted ‘graphical behaviour’ (p.164) or visual language. This graphical behaviour is also enhanced by the child’s natural observation of behaviours – an adult doodling, an explanation for how to put together a book shelf or the rules of a game. However it is important to note that as television has increased its role in the family life, this too has had an effect on the artistic development of the child (Marsh and Millard, 2000, and Pahl, 2002).

If artistic development, particularly mark making and the development of meaning within those marks, is achieved through social mimicking then parallels between mark making and written and spoken language begin to appear. As drawing skill increases children learn increasingly complex rules of technique and creation, as they do with other forms of language in building vocabulary (Wilats, 1995). These forms of communication are given hierarchy once the child enters the academic environment, where they are led to perceive that it is the written word that is the dominant mode of communication (Gardner and Perkins, 1989), this leads to children reducing their engagement with drawing and mark making.

Garner (2008) suggests that there may be another reason than the hierarchy of communication methods. Through the reproduction of emails sent between members of the Drawing Research Network it is implied that this lack of instruction may be due to a shift in attitude towards the worth of drawing. Tom McGurik (p.20) expresses feelings that fine art education has ‘abandoned many of its traditions… in order to come under the university umbrella’ and that as such must defend its actions in terms of research and funding, which do not necessarily suit the schooling of fine art (p. 20). This would suggest that the traditional skills which art education was concerned with have given way to an academic approach of reason and research. With a shift in university art education (i.e. a move to a theoretical, rather than skill based education), it is possible that these sentiments towards the worth of drawing have filtered down through our educational system towards primary and secondary level education.

Hopperstad (2008) asses the development of meaning making through mark making and the subsequent peer interaction that comes with the activity. A child’s drawing is always meaningful to them (Atkinson, 1993 and Kress, 1997) and the intended meaning can either easily accessed or cryptically hidden depending on the sophistication of the visual language used (Hodge and Kress, 1988). Hopperstad (2008) notes the importance of interaction through observations of children critiquing each others work. Hopperstad reports further than seeing positive judgement from other pupils, that they question each others use of visual signifiers and their appropriateness (p. 145 – 147). Hopperstad also observes that Children turn to each other readily for help and instruction, such as the drawing of a necklace or a dog (p.143). As well as relying on each other for instruction and help it is observed that it is important for children to be able to share feelings of struggling and inadequacy, illustrating that the peer group attempt to work at a similar level as each other (Dyson, 1989). Pavlou (2006) however reports a negative side to these peer interactions, as Children begin question their own ability, those with low confidence will compare themselves to their peers negatively, noting that their pictures ‘suck’ (p. 197) compared to their classmates.

When searching for literature suitable for this project it was difficult to find any that specifically related to the age group being investigated (year nine, ages 13 – 14). Whilst much of the literature reviewed here can give us a general picture of the art class it is important to note that the research presented here applies to pre adolescent (Pavlou, 2006) and primary school aged children (Anning, 1999, 2008, Anning and Ring, 2004, Barret et al., 1985, Davis, 1983, Dyson, 1989, Davis and Bentley, 1984, Hopperstad ,2008, Kress, 1997, 2003, Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996, Marsh and Millard, 2000, Matthew, 1999 and Pahl, 2002). The papers examined here may give us a good background picture of where these participants have come from but they will be more developed and further in their development on Burt’s (1921), Gardner et al. (1975) and Lowenfeld’s (7th Editon, 1982) development of artistic ability scales. Further to this Anning (1999) says it is possible that by this point some of the participants could have abandoned mark making altogether as they have developed a ‘no good at drawing attitude’ already, possibly due to lack of instruction or guidance, which could have cause a stagnation in development along developmental scales or possible regression.



This study is a case study as defined by Cohen et al (6th Edition, 2007), with elements of action research as defined by Cohen et al. (6th Edition, 2007, pp. 297 – 302), and Kemmis and McTaggert’s (1992, p.10) view that action research allows planning, acting, observation and reflection on a rigorous level. This study acknowledges and utilises Winter’s (1996, pp. 13 -14) principles of action research such as awareness of perceptual bias on behalf of the researcher. The pupils own initial responses to the research question have directed the course of research and ways in which issues raised have been addressed.


The sample used within the study was one art class at a school in Cambridgeshire. The school, serving pupils from central Cambridge and the surrounding villages is a large school with in excess of 1400 pupils on roll. The schools achievement levels are above national averages with statistics reporting 85% achieve five GCSEs or more at A* – C (including English and Mathematics) (DCSF, 2008) and the art department has a 100% pass rate A* – C at GCSE. The class sample was an opportunity sampling. The teaching class sampled is a year 9 class (ages 13 – 14) of mixed ability. The class size on the day the initial questionnaire sample was taken was seventeen (usual class size is 24, 7 were absent due to a variety of reasons such as illness and expulsion from class by their regular class teacher). The sample of pupils taken for the initial questionnaire were also the only pupils to be observed, although others were present within the classroom, and to answer the second questionnaire. Pupils within the sample size have a variety of special needs including one SEN statemented pupil, with a long medical history which has resulted in difficulties with motor skills, cognitive abilities and visual and auditory problems. This pupil also has a below average reading age of 6.03 and can be slow to process information and finds it difficult to organise and problem solve.


Preliminary questionnaire

The questionnaire contained eight questions designed to measure attitudes and motivation in the art class. The questionnaire was produced using a Likert scale (Likert, 1932) providing a range of responses to the questions and statements presented to the sample, to measure only one aspect of attitude and motivation at a time (Oppenheim, 1992, pp. 187 – 188). This was done for ease of comparison between respondents as this would be difficult to do with open ended questions (Cohen et al., 6th edition, 2007, pp. 330 – 331). The order of the questionnaire took Sellitz et al (1976) design for a questionnaire into consideration. At the end of the questionnaire there was space for pupils to write any other comments that they felt were necessary on the topic of art and drawing.

Second questionnaire

The second questionnaire contained sixteen questions (including a space for any additional comments from the respondent) designed to further measure and discover additional details about attitudes and motivation in the art class. As before many of the questions were produced using a Likert scale (Likert, 1932), measuring one aspect of attitude and motivation at a time (Oppenheim, 1992, pp. 187 – 188). The questions from the preliminary questionnaire were included to measure if responses had changed over the scheme of work the pupils had been following as well as new questions based on findings of the preliminary questionnaire and observations of the class of which four questions were open ended to allow a more personalised response from the respondent. The addition of open ended questions was not to limit responses to questions which could have a variety of responses because it would be incorrect to presume a range of responses (Bailey, 1994, p. 120). However the open ended questions do give examples of responses and guidance for the respondent to attempt to ensure useful information is given (Choen et al., 2007, Sixth Edition, p.330).


The class was given an initial questionnaire about their attitudes towards representational drawing and motivation within the art class room. During the distribution of the questionnaire the class was reminded that it was an investigation in to what their attitude and motivation was in the class room and they should be honest as this was not a test and would not be used to mark them in any way. A further reminder of this was placed at the top of the questionnaire.

After the class had completed filling in the initial questionnaire pupils were asked to complete two tasks over a 90 minute period. The class was asked to produce two drawings based on a composition of sea shells. Sea shells are regularly used at the school for still life drawing activities. The first drawing the class was asked to produce would focus on line and shape of the composition whilst the second would focus on tonal properties of the composition.

The results of the initial questionnaire and the drawings produced by the class were then collected and examined from which a scheme of work to address motivation and attitudes towards drawing in the art class room was devised, drawing on elements of action research. The pupils own initial responses to the research question have directed the course of research and ways in which issues raised have been addressed.

From the responses to the tasks and questionnaire a scheme of work was developed that would explore attitudes towards and motivation for drawing when combined with other tasks in the classroom, such as 3D construction and the creation of ‘op art’ patterns would influence attitude and motivation. Responses to these tasks have been recorded in observation notes.

Upon completion of the sequence of lessons the class were given a new questionnaire. The new questionnaire re-examined the same elements that the initial questionnaire addressed and requested that the participants give further detail through the addition of open ended questions, exploring how they measure their perceived ability and preference of activities.


Initial Questionnaire results

From the initial questionnaire it can be seen that 81% of the class enjoy the subject but only 29% feel motivated within the classroom. 41% state that they enjoy representational drawing, whilst 29% believe they are good at it, however 41% stated they are confident in their drawing ability. One participant strongly agreed with the statement that they are confident in their ability despite none strongly agreeing that they are good at representational drawing. 71% stated that they prefer to do other activities in the art class other than drawing. At the stage of the year in which the questionnaire was distributed year nine pupils were considering options for their GCSE / KS4 subjects, at this point 29% stated that they were going to take the subject at this level whilst 35% remained undecided and a further 35% said they would not be taking the subject further. Participants offering an undecided (neutral) response to the statements vary from 47% (I enjoy representational drawing (for example drawing a still life, a ‘realistic’ drawing) to 12% (I prefer to do other activities in art other than drawing).

On the questionnaire there was space for the pupils to write what activities they would prefer to do other than drawing. Of the pupils that offered suggestions (11 in total) 5 offered more than one suggestion, one pupil wrote that they like to have a variety of activities and another stated that they wanted something easy and exciting to do. 64% stated that they would prefer to work in 3D making models and sculptures. Three (27%) responded that they would prefer to do Urban art/ spray paint, an activity that is popular within the school.

Pupils were also given the option to give any additional comments about what they thought of art and drawing. Seven (41%) of the original sample (17) offered additional comments. Two of these pupils stated that they would enjoy art more if they were given more freedom about what they could make or draw:

‘I would like art more if we got to choose more of what we draw, like making our own ideas.’

‘I would enjoy art and drawing more if I drew an image I choose and liked.’

One pupil went further, stating that whilst only liking drawing things that they like, they do not like the task to be too difficult:

‘I only really like drawing things I like or can draw easily.’

Contrary to this one pupil gave the insight that they found drawing ‘relaxing and satisfying’ and found other activities ‘stressful and tiring.’

Focus on the activity of drawing within the classroom was interpreted negatively as one pupil stated that they do not always like drawing and another expanded:

‘…I don’t like drawing or drawing the same thing and just sitting there drawing…’

Second Questionnaire Results

From the second questionnaire it can be seen 59% enjoy art, 29% are undecided and 11% do not enjoy art. 41% are motivated in the classroom, 35% are not and 24% are undecided. Only one (6%) of the sample strongly agreed that they are good at art with a further 35% saying that they agreed they are good. 35% disagreed that they were good at art, and one (6% of total sample) of this group stated that they strongly disagreed.

41% of the sample enjoys representational drawing, 35% do not enjoy representational drawing and 24% remained undecided. 35% felt that they were good at representational drawing, with one saying that they strongly agreed with the statement. 29% did not agree that they were good at representational drawing and 35% remained undecided. 53% are confident in their representational drawing ability, 29% disagreed with the statement and 17% were undecided. The pupils were asked how they measure how good they are at drawing as an open question; the responses can be seen in Table 5, along with the number of times pupils cited it as how they measure how good they are at drawing. One of the sample did not respond to the question and five (29%) gave multiple answers.

When pushed further than the previous questionnaire as to what they want to draw and were asked if they would prefer to draw what they personally like (for example objects they have an attachment with or people) the majority agreed with the statement, 82% agreed with 29% strongly agreeing. Only 1 of the sample (6%) disagreed with the statement and 12% remained undecided. Table 6 shows the individual responses that pupils gave, and the frequency with which they were cited. Five (29%) of the sample did not respond to the question the question and two (12%) gave multiple answers.

Pupils were asked if they would prefer to draw from their own imaginations as opposed to drawing from observation, or real life. 53% agreed that they would prefer to draw from their imaginations, 41% remained undecided and 1 (6%) disagreed.  Five (29%) of the sample did not respond to the question and two (12%) gave multiple answers and one appears to have misunderstood the question answering ‘sometimes’.

Pupils were asked if they preferred other activities than drawing in art. 70% agreed that they would rather do other activities with four (24%) strongly agreeing, 12% being undecided and 18% disagreeing. Pupils were then asked what sort of activity they would prefer to do; the results of this are shown in table 8. Seven participants did not respond to this question and five gave multiple answers.

At this time of the school year, Year 9 pupils have handed in their options for subjects KS4 subjects, when the previous questionnaire was handed out they were had only just begun the process of subject option selection. It was felt necessary to follow up on the previous question of whether they were considering taking Art as a GCSE / BTec option by asking who had opted to carry on studying Art to KS4. This was done to establish whether or not the discontinuing of the subject at this stage in the classes learning has effected motivation. Table 9 shows the results which show that 47% have opted to study art at KS4.

Further to this, with over half of the class ending their formal studying of art at the end of this year I felt it was relevant to ask whether or not pupils would carry on pursuing drawing activities regardless of whether or not they are continuing with their formal Art education. 64% of the sample agreed or strongly agreed that they would like to carry on with drawing activities, 18% said they would not and 12% remained undecided. One participant stated that they were undecided if they would continue with drawing despite saying that they would be continue studying Art in to KS4.

As on the initial questionnaire there was a space for pupils to leave any additional comments they may have about drawing or art. Four participants (24%) took the opportunity to leave additional comments. One of the comments was that a pupil didn’t like drawing:

‘I don’t like drawing.’

Another commented how they found the subject fun, but felt they would enjoy it more if they were good at it, whilst another also speaks of the subject’s relaxing qualities:

‘It’s very fun but I would enjoy it more if I was good at it.’

‘It is relaxing and it can become a focus over a number of weeks.’

One pupil, a confident, motivated and able pupil commented:

‘Yes, we should do more in clay work and a big project and spray painting –deffo!’

Changes in results between the initial questionnaire and the second questionnaire.

The two results tables have been compared to see if there has been a shift in pupils’ opinions caused by the scheme of work and their exploration of drawing.

It can be seen that overall 18% changed their opinion from enjoying art to either being undecided or disagreeing that they enjoy art. Two additional participants (12% of sample) have become motivated within the class. An additional 24% state that they do not enjoy representational drawing on the second questionnaire and the number of undecided participants between the two questionnaires has halfed, but the number of people who do not enjoy representational drawing has increased by four (24% of the sample and the same number that undecided participants has decreased by). Only one additional participant has strongly agreed that they are good at representational drawing on the second questionnaire, whilst two now strongly disagreed with the statement. One participant no longer strongly agrees that they would prefer to do other activities than drawing and one additional participant strongly disagrees.

The numbers of students that listed preferred activities has also been compared. The list now contains three additional preferred activities of outside activities, clay work and ‘big projects’. One less pupil offered suggestions for preferred activities on the second questionnaire than the first. Sculpture and making models has lost two pupils that would prefer these activities whilst spray paint and graffiti / urban art have gained two and photography has gained one.


Discussion of results from initial questionnaire.

The results show that the majority of the class enjoy art but do not feel motivated within the classroom. Whilst many disagreed or remained neutral about the statement of their ability, whether they were good or not, in relation to representational drawing, 47% of the sample stated that they were confident in their ability to produce a representational drawing. A strong majority (71%) of the class stated that they preferred to do other activities than drawing in the classroom.

The class enjoys art but does not feel motivated in the classroom. This result seems odd and may actually highlight an error in the way the class was asked the question. The lack of motivation may be a result of self consciousness in the pupils as this is an age when pupils will be aware of their own shortcomings (Lowenfeld, 7th edition, 1982) and feelings of inadequacy have unmotivated the group, as has been observed in existing research (Anning, 1999 and Pavlou, 2006). The lack of motivation may come from the lack of detailed instruction given within the classroom. Detailed instruction can improve artistic performance (Barret et al., 1985, Davis, 1983 and Bentley, 1984), this may prevent the lack of motivation in the results from the questionnaire and as observed by Anning (1999) and Pavlou (2006). Interestingly, despite an apparent lack of motivation (35% stated they were unmotivated, and a further 35% responded undecided about their motivation) the majority of the class does enjoy art (76% said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement and 18% remained undecided). This would imply the class does enjoy art, and that motivational issues may be related towards the task which the class has been asked to take part in and the clarity of instruction and ability to be successful within the task. The perceived lack of motivation as self protection strategy would be parallel to Pavlou (2006), where pupils often claim to be bored of tasks before offering that they are not interested because they do not know if they will succeed.

When the class was asked if they enjoy representational drawing 41% agreed or strongly agreed that they did and 47% remained undecided. A possible reason for the large percentage that remain undecided, and the perceived lack of motivation within the classroom, may be explained by pupil comments that imply the pupils do enjoy drawing, but they would prefer to have more freedom in what it is that they do. Giving further credit to the notion that enjoyment and motivation are task related. The pupils of this class seem to want to have freedom to draw what they want to draw, rather than things that are setup for them to draw by the class teacher. They want to be given the creative freedom to develop their own ideas.

Contrary to Pavlou’s (2006) findings a low confidence (on their initial observational drawing the pupil wrote ‘it’s rubbish’ below their name), unmotivated yet able pupil responded that they would prefer to do something simple. Pavlou found that tasks that appeal to low and high confidence pupils tend to be ‘complex and thus more challenging’ (p.198). This pupil also wanted something exciting but the emphasis was the desire for a simple task. Having observed this pupil throughout the scheme of work the class has been following, the statement of wanting something simple is not completely true. What is true with the pupil in question is that they want tasks and objectives explicitly explained with clear instruction and positive reinforcement of what the pupil can achieve. This pupil demonstrates that clear instruction can raise performance (Barret et al., 1985, Davis, 1983, Davis and Bentley, 1984), but also that clear instruction and direction can raise motivation. This would seem to agree with Anning (1999) who states that a lack of instruction, and the presumption that children will naturally learn to draw in the western style, can create disaffection and a lack of motivation towards drawing. With clear instruction and guidance this pupil is able and confident, which builds motivation. The ‘simple’ activity that the pupil wished for is nonexistent, the activities the pupil has been working with have been of increasing difficulty, conceptually and practically, yet clear instruction has made the task appear simple and achievable.

When the class was asked of their confidence in their representational drawing ability and how ‘good’ they thought they were, I was expecting the answer to be the same, presuming that if you felt you were good at something that meant you were confident and if you were confident in your ability that meant that you thought you were good at the activity. The answers the class gave are interesting, 29% agreed that they were good at representational drawing (none strongly agreed), 41% remained undecided and 29% disagreed (only one of the participants strongly disagreed). When asked of their confidence in their representational drawing ability the levels of disagreement remained the same, however 47% stated that they were confident, with one participant stating that they strongly agreed with the statement and 23% remained undecided. A possible explanation for this could be social modelling (Hopperstad, 2008) whilst an individual may be confident in their ability, discussions with peers and observations of peers’ work may highlight inadequacies and prevent the pupil form considering themselves ‘good.’ Pavlou (2006) observed that pupils would compare their work to their nearby peers negatively, thinking that there’s was not as good as someone else’s work. Further to this, the lack of admitting that they are good at an activity, despite being confident, may be a reflection the peer group attempting to work at a uniform level (Dyson, 1989).

When the pupils were asked if they would prefer to do any other activities within the classroom seven out of eleven respondents (64%) answered that they would enjoy something more 3D based, such as model making or sculpture based work. This could be because of the joy of playing / experimenting with materials (Duncum, 2002) and kinaesthetic pleasure of making. The ability to work in 3D would be a departure form the typically 2D work produced within the department at the school making the activity attractive through being novel (Pavlou, 2006). The option of working in 3D would also allow pupils to break away from conforming methods and symbols of mark making harkening back to Matthews’ (1994) ideas of exploratory mark and meaning making in play. Pupils may prefer the idea of working in 3D as it is seen as less academically challenging and novel than producing a representational drawing (Pavlou, 2006).

Three pupils responded that they would prefer to work in spray paint producing urban art / graffiti. The use of spray paint is common within the school and popular, especially in years 10 and 11 where many pupils produce stencilled spray paint images for assessment. Pupils see this activity on a regular basis and wish to take part, however I would question how much this desire would be present if pupils did not regularly observe this activity. It is possible that the pupils wanting to take part in this project have a desire to take part in the same activities as there peers in the school as they feel as though they are missing out. This could be seen to relate to Hopperstad’s (2008) observations of peer groups wishing to work at the same level.

One pupil explicitly wrote that they would enjoy a variety of activities and a further five of the respondents (out of a total of eleven respondents) to the question of preferred activities offered more than one suggestion. The desire to do a variety of activities could imply that pupils wish to experiment with forms of art to further understand and develop their own visual language (Wilats, 1995) beyond drawing.

To my surprise only one of the respondents said that they would prefer to do photography. This surprised me as I have observed photography to be a popular activity with other pupils, largely due to its perceived instantaneous results. A possible explanation for this is that the class had just finished a photography project with their regular class teacher, which involved recreating portraits by other artists – including costumes, back drops and lighting. The class teacher is a fan of photography and had pursued the project with some vigour exposing the pupils to the need to take hundreds of photographs to obtain just one satisfactory result as is the case in a professional studio. This attitude put some of the pupils off the activity as it suddenly became ‘difficult’ to them making it not worthwhile (Pavlou, 2006), and could therefore potentially be a reason for the activities lack of popularity.

Discussion of second questionnaire and comparison of results

The second questionnaire saw a shift in results from the first. It would be difficult to surmise that there has been a general movement in one direction or another. Pupils have now generally expressed an opinion rather than remaining neutral. There may be external factors beyond the scheme of work that the class has been following that explain this shift. It is important to note when this questionnaire was distributed the class was being covered by a non-specialist teacher in a room not usually used for art due to the time tabling of the art GCSE exam. This could be a factor in the shifting of results as they were in an unfamiliar environment and the covering teacher may have been unable to answer any queries about the questionnaire.

Another factor which could explain why the pupil responses had changed could be the ordering of the questions. As well as examining opinions in more depth the second questionnaire altered the question order to attempt to stimulate more honest and thoughtful results. It was felt that the initial questionnaire proposed the questions in too abstract a manner and did not lead the respondent to think of their responses to the questions in a logical form. For example the first two statements, ‘I enjoy art’ and ‘I am motivated in the art class,’ were placed in this order on the second questionnaire but originally appeared in the opposite order. This was done because it was felt that the class would perhaps think more honestly about their motivational levels if they were thinking already about their enjoyment of the subject.

Once again it can be seen that the majority of the class (59%, illustrating a decrease of 22% between questionnaires) do actually enjoy art, and this time there has been an increase of 12% in the number of pupils which say that they feel motivated within the class (41%). Previously only one pupil stated that they did not enjoy art, but two do now. The results given when asked about confidence and motivation are now much more comparable than previously and would suggest that if a pupil enjoys the subject they are more likely to feel motivated within it. It is possible that this reflects the work of Lowenfeld (7th Edition, 1982), Anning (1999) and Pavlou (2006), suggesting that pupils require a sense of success and achievement, or at least need to feel as though they can obtain success, in order to enjoy the class and therefore be motivated within it. This is further evidenced by the responses given when asked how much they agreed with the statement ‘I am good at art.’ It can be seen in the results that the same number of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the statement (41%), were undecided (24%) and strongly disagreed or disagreed (35%). This would suggest that a belief in ability can fuel motivation (Pavlou, 2006).

The statements ‘I am good at representational drawing’ and ‘I am confident in my representational drawing ability’, which appear in this order on the first questionnaire, were also switched. When reviewing the results of the first questionnaire I thought it was odd that one strongly agreed that they were confident at representational drawing, seven agreed, four remained undecided whilst four disagreed and one strongly disagreed. Yet the pupils’ responses to if they thought they were good at representational drawing were somewhat different; none strongly agreed, five agreed, seven remained undecided, those that strongly disagreed and disagreed remained the same. It seemed odd that the pupils that responded that they were confident in their ability did not also answer that they felt they were good at the activity. To test whether or not the order of the statements on the questionnaire would affect the results they were switched. The change in order of the statements does not seem to have significantly affected results and only one participant has changed their opinion significantly from undecided to strongly agree when questioned about their ability, whilst three additional pupils now strongly disagree (having previously only disagreed). When the pupils were asked what they felt their strongest art activity was in the class, related to the question of if they thought they were good at art (not necessarily drawing), nine (53%) stated drawing which is 18% higher than those that were willing to state that they thought they were good at representational drawing. This could be due to a lack of belief in their ability at other activities and a feeling that drawing due to its common place within their curriculum is therefore their strongest.

After analysing the first questionnaire and seeing that confidence could be high whilst a belief in ability could be different it was deemed necessary to ask them how the pupils measured how good they were at the activity. When asked how pupils measure how good they are at representational drawing a small number of participants (35%) stated internal factors, such as self belief and opinion, as their measuring device. The majority of pupils stated that they looked for confirmation from an external body, usually a person they perceive to be in a better position to make the judgement, such as a teacher or parent with a few also stating that their friends tell them. In total ten participants (59%) said that they looked to external bodies for measurement of ability, particularly teachers (35%), and one participant commented ‘no one tells me I’m good’, which would suggest this pupil also looks for confirmation of ability from an external body. When the answers to the questions of if they believe they are good at drawing and how they measure that ability are compared with the answers given for their confidence in the activity, the results would suggest that confidence is an internal factor and independent from feeling that you are good at the activity. For a pupil to believe they are good at an activity there must be external affirmation of this.

When the class was asked if they prefer to draw things they like, fourteen (82%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. When asked if they would rather draw from their imagination nine (53%) agreed or strongly agreed, whilst seven (41%) said they were undecided. This would imply that the class would prefer to draw from something based in reality, and the range of answers given for both what the pupils would prefer to draw and what they would prefer to draw from their imagination would appear to confirm this. The majority of answers to these questions are based on objects that the pupils would have readily available access to, including the use of photographs. However the design of the question here could be at fault. The pupils may not have totally understood the question, evidenced by a pupil that responded ‘sometimes’ to the question of what they would they like to draw from their imagination. Looking at the results it is possible to suggest that the pupils are not drawing from imagination but from memory.

It is possible that this is the case due to the development of what Anning (1999) calls a ‘catch-all, safe, representational style of drawing’ (p. 169) developed for approval. Pupils feel that their drawings must be based on reality rather than truly from their own imaginations. The use of drawing to tell stories, as is common in primary schools (Anning, 1999, 2008 and Hopperstad, 2008), demonstrating drawing from imagination, appears to have been lost by this age group as they cite that they would prefer to draw objects than narratives, evidencing that the class feels drawings must be based in reality. It is also perhaps possible that the sentiment of producing drawings of objects and not in an imaginative, narrative form, could be a reflection that pupils have learnt that in order to attain praise and recognition work must be produced to reflect the views and ideals of the person that they are hoping to obtain praise from (Anning, 1995, 1997)

When the pupils were asked if they would like to do other activities than drawing for a second time there has been little movement in the responses, overall between the categories of agreeing, disagreeing and undecided there has actually been no movement, the changes have been within the activities suggested by the class. The list of activities offered as alternatives has grown and the types of activity and frequency with which they are quoted now have changed. Working with 3D projects has lost participant across the three categories this covers (clay work, sculpture and model making), whilst urban art / graffiti / spray paint activities has two additional participants wanting to do it. With pupils commenting that they want an activity that is ‘easy’, ‘simple’ and Pavlou’s (2006) ideas of pupil investment relating to ability to succeed and effort needed, it is perhaps unsurprising that pupils want to do an activity which is seen as quick and giving a sleek finish that they appreciate, such as the stencil spray painting that is common in the school.

When the second questionnaire was distributed the pupils had just submitted their subject options for their GCSEs. The question was asked of the class to see if whether or not the lack of continuation in the study of the subject would increase the likelihood of an unmotivated pupil. The lack of continuation with the subject does not appear to have influenced the motivation of the individuals in the study. The answer to the question of continuing the subject into key stage four revealed that 47% (eight of the participants) were continuing the subject. When asked on the initial questionnaire if they were going to take the subject as a key stage four option only 29% (five participants) agreed or strongly agreed, 35% ( six participants) were undecided and 35% (six participants) disagreed. The subject within the school has a large take up and is an in demand subject, to the extent that the school runs additional classes after school for those wanting to take it as an additional subject, the number of pupils wishing to continue with the subject is not surprising given the culture of the school. What is perhaps of most interest is the number of participants that said they would continue to draw, regardless of whether or not they are taking art for at key stage four, eleven participants (65%) said that they would, two (12%) were undecided and four (24%) disagreed. Two of the pupils who said they would not be continuing drawing or remained undecided also stated that they would be continuing the subject at key stage four, although one of these pupils (the participant that said they would not continue drawing) also stated that they did not think they were good at art. This could illustrate that the pupil despite having a low level of self confidence still feels as though they can achieve in the subject area. The pupil that responded they were undecided about continuing to draw enjoys art and feels motivated in the class but does not feel confident within their drawing ability. Perhaps most interestingly from this question is that four participants that agreed with they would continue to draw (24% of the sample, and 36% of those that agreed) are not continuing the subject into key stage four. This would give credit to the notion that drawing is an intrinsic human activity (Matthews, 1994) and may just be carried out for pure kinaesthetic joy (Anning, 1999).

Concluding Remarks

The result of the second questionnaire would suggest that the class appears to enjoy art and is motivated in the subject, although more appear to enjoy the subject than feel motivated. The discrepancy of this result with the result from the same questions on the first questionnaire, which suggested the class enjoyed the subject but did not feel motivated, could be deemed to be because of a fault in the questionnaire design or a number of external factors, it was reported that on the day of the initial questionnaire being distributed some of the class had been in trouble with other teachers. When looking at the results of the questionnaires, the enjoyment and confidence levels in the class are higher than those of motivation and a belief that the pupil is ‘good’ at the subject. This would suggest that the enjoyment of a class does not come from feeling motivated or that they are ‘good’ in the subject but pupils having confidence that they can achieve. This could be related to the way in which the art class is viewed by the pupils; Eisner (2001) suggests that the art room is a safe area for pupils to experiment, without fear of failure. If this is the case then pupils should feel confident in the class as the failure they may encounter is considered part of the learning process.

Confidence is the main cause for motivation or lack of it within the classroom, Pavlou (2006) notes that pupils that found activities boring, often then elaborate to expressing concern over what was required of them in the activity. Motivation within a task would appear to come from the confidence that success is achievable, and that this judgement has to be made internally by the pupil rather than through positive affirmation from the teacher, although positive affirmation can only help raise confidence. The findings of the study would suggest that for a high confidence level to be translated into a pupil feeling that they are ‘good’ at the subject they must be told by someone, usually a person perceived to be in a position of authority such as a teacher or parent.

Representational drawing is not the most popular activity within the art classroom; it is difficult to say which single activity will be accepted by the majority as the most popular. This is likely due to a number of reasons, firstly it is perceived as difficult. This perceived difficulty may come from a lack of instruction previously (Anning, 1999) or the development of resentment towards drawing due to not being able to achieve at the activity. Secondly, the participants in this study will be developed to appoint where they are trying to recreate a realistic view of the world (Burt 1921, Gardner et al. ,1975 and Lowenfeld ,7th Edition, 1982), which they may feel they produce inadequate results when trying to draw in this fashion. The study revealed that pupils are generally happy to attempt to create the western realist drawing that they are accustomed to but would prefer to draw their own personalised objects or activity.

Even though less than half of the participants (seven out of seventeen) said they enjoyed drawing, and four remained undecided (which may be attributed to a subjective view of what they are asked to draw, i.e. they only enjoy drawing objects and things that they have a personal taste for), eleven said that they would carry on drawing regardless of whether or not they are carrying on studying art at key stage four, with four participants saying they would regardless of the fact that they are not continuing with the subject. This would appear to give credit to Matthews’ (1994) idea that drawing is an intrinsic activity that all humans take part in. Drawing appears to be an activity that the majority of the pupils are motivated to continue with, regardless of an academic need to, which would suggest that the simplest motivation for drawing is a pure kinaesthetic pleasure from making a mark (Anning, 1999).


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