ARTS PROPEL:A HANDBOOK FOR VISUAL ARTSThis handbook was prepared by Allison Foote, Drew Gitomer, Linda Melamed, ElizabethRosenblatt Seymour Simmons, Alice Sims-Gunzenhauser, and Ellen Winner, with the helpof teachers and administrators from the Pittsburgh Public School System.Arts PROPEL Handbook Series Editor: Ellen WinnerThis handbook was co-edited by Ellen Winner and Seymour Simmons.

AcknowledgmentsMany of the materials and ideas presented here were developed in collaborationwith the Pittsburgh Public School system. We thank the supervisors, teachers, and students from Pittsburgh for their invaluable collaboration. Arts PROPEL was generouslyfunded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation; funds were also made available by theEducational Testing Service.We would like to acknowledge that the work described here represents a collaboration of many minds including students, teachers and administrators in Pittsburgh andCambridge, research scientists at Educational Testing Service, and educators, developmental psychologists, artists and researchers at Harvard Project Zero. The quality of thiswork is a reflection of all of the participants, who made invaluable contributions to theproject.Listed below are all those who contributed to Arts PROPEL in the visual arts.The Pittsburgh Public SchoolsJulianne Agar, Supervisor, Visual ArtsMarsha Fidoten, Media SupervisorPaul LeMahieu, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Test DevelopmentStanley Herman, Associate Superintendent, Curriculum and Program ManagementMary Anne Mackey, Executive Assistant to the Associate Superintendent,Co-Director for Arts PROPEL in PittsburghLaura Magee, Director of Arts EducationAnn Moniot, Executive Associate to the Associate SuperintendentJoan Neal, Coordinator for Arts PROPELNancy Pistone, Supervisor, Visual ArtsKaren Price, High School Visual Arts Teacher and Visual Arts Team CoordinatorTeresa Rozewski, Supervisor, Visual ArtsDeborah Saltrick, Research Assistant, Division of Research, Evaluation, and Test DevelopmentMildred Tersak, Coordinating AssistantRichard Wallace, Superintendent of SchoolsCore Research Teachers:Barbara Albig-Schurman, Beverly Bates, Norman Brown, Cynthia Chung, Pamela Costanza, JeromeDAngelo, Marsha Ekunfeo, Scott Grosh, Carolyn Hess, Mark Moore, Marlene Murrer, William Perry, KarenPrice, Gail Davidson Rose, Sue AnnWhittick.Dissemination Teachers:Margaret Alex, Josephine Cantazaro, Donald Cardone, Mary Ann Gaser, Michael Haritan, Pamela Haywood,Carolyn Hess, Gretchen Jacob, Ronald Kalla, Margaret Kisslinger, Valerie Lucas, M. Anne Marshall, PhillipMendlow, Patricia Mills, Gabe Mingrone, Leslie Pfahl, Patricia Pirt, Gloria Pollock, Nancy Roth, BarbaraShuty, Edward Spahr, Patricia Sullivan, Mary Tierney, Catherine Trichtinger, George West, Jr., Gloria Wolak.1

The Boston ICambridge Teachers’ NetworkAvalin Green (Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Burlington Public School), Kathy KeIn-i (Director,Nantucket Island School of Design), Mary Lou McGrath (Superintendent of Schools, Cambridge PublicSchools), Diane Tabor (Assistant Principal, Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School), Susan Wheltie(Director of Art and Music, Reading Public Schools)Visual Arts Teachers: Ron Berger, Renee Covalucci, Whitney Davis, Cecilia DelGaudio, Bill Endsiow, AlFerreira, Cynthia Katz, Kathy Keim, Joy Seidler, Phillip Young.Educational Testing ServiceDrew Gitomer, Co-Director of the Arts PROPEL ProjectLinda MelamedLauren NuchowJoAn PhillipsAlice Sims-GunzenhauserHarvard Project ZeroHoward Gardner, Co-Director of the Arts PROPEL ProjectDenriie Palmer Wolf, Co-Director of the Arts PROPEL ProjectAffison FooteRebecca LangeElizabeth RosenblattSeymour SimmonsJoe WaltersEllen WinnerConsultantsJoan Arbeiter, Artist, du Cret School of Art, Metuchen, NJWalter Askin, California State University, Los AngelesJudith Burton, Teachers College, Columbia UniversityGeraldine Dimondstein, California State University, Los AngelesBernard Harmon, Philadelphia Public SchoolsJerome Hausman, The Center for Arts Education, ChicagoCarl Hazelwood, Aljira, Newark, NJSusan Hockaday, Artist, Princeton, NJMichael Ott, University of KansasWe would also like to acknowledge the students from Pittsburgh, Boston and Cambridge as energetic andenthusiastic partners.Cover materials are by Candy Feaster, 12th grade, Pittsburgh Public Schools.Photography by Karen Price (Kuba cloth project), Jane Freund (Karen Price’s Portfolio Review), AllisonFoote, and Carl Tolino.Arts PROPEL Handbook production and design by Shirley Veenema, Harvard Project Zero 1992 by Educational Testing Service and the President and Fellows of Harvard College(on behalf of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education). All rights reserved.This handbook was produced by Harvard Project Zero and Educational Testing Service with funding fromthe Rockefeller Foundation and Educational Testing Service.2

Table of ContentsI-Ij.P’1’E1 1: Introductionpage 5CHAPTER 2: Production, Perception, and Reflectionpage 15CHAPTER 3: 4ssessizentpage 27CHAPTER 4: Journalspage 35CHAPTER 5: Domain Projectspage 41CHAPTER 6: Domain Project Assessmentpage 65CHAPTER 7: Portfoliospage 75CHAPTER 8: Implementation of PROPELin the Classroompage 105REFERENCESpage 1173

CHAPTER 1INTRODUCTIONArts PROPEL. is an approach to education that has evolved in the visual arts, music,and imaginative writing at the middle and high school levels. The project grew out of acommitment to develop non-traditional models of assessment appropriate for studentsengaged in artistic processes. Its larger goal is to find means to enhance and documentstudent learning in the arts and humanities. Supported by the Arts and HumanitiesDivision of the Rockefeller Foundation, PROPEL was developed and field-tested during afive-year period from 1986-1991 by researchers at Harvard Project Zero and EducationalTesting Service working in close collaboration with teachers and administrators in thePittsburgh Public School system.Our work was guided and informed by a wide range of existing research in theareas of education, developmental psychology, cognitive science, and educationalmeasurement. Combining this background with insights derived from classroomexperience, researchers and teachers worked together to develop effective teaching andassessment strategies, as well as strategies for determining assessment criteria that wouldeffectively profile student learning while at the same time help to inform instruction.The emphasis on assessment reflects the fact that Arts PROPEL has emerged duringa decade when the educational system at large has been pressured to improve and whenaccountability has become a high priority. It has also been a decade when the art educationfield, spurred on by the dissemination of a discipline-based approach to art education, hasbeen challenged to redefine and clarify its own goals and priorities.Despite differences in orientation among art educators about such issues, there is ashared desire that art be given a secure position in public educationthat it shouldbecome an essential component of education. The arts, it is held, are a way ofunderstanding the world. As such, they can be as rigorous and challenging as the sciences,and should have as important a role in education.—What, then, is the role of assessment in this process of advocacy and re-evaluation?Some art educators, caught up in the push for accountability in education, claim thatformal assessment and resulting hard data are the key to security for arts in the schools.Others denounce assessment as antithetical and dangerous to creativity in the arts.In contrast to both positions, Arts PROPEL is grounded in the belief that artisticlearning can be assessed in ways that support creativity and at the same time provideinformation useful to both teacher and student. Toward these ends, we have focused ourattention on classroom level assessment and have created assessment measures which yielda picture of student growth over time. This form of assessment is based not on testing butrather on profiling ongoing performance and growth across diverse dimensions oflearning.The PROPEL initiative is part of a general trend toward exploratory research innonstandardized approaches to assessment. This trend has emerged to complement the5

renewed emphasis on accountability noted above. Other examples include portfolioassessment initiatives in California and Vermont. In this context, we believe that, ratherthan submitting themselves to inappropriate “academic” assessment methods, the arts canassume a leadership role in developing models of assessment that can capture “authentic”learning across domains.But assessment is only part of the overall picture: To ask what should be assessed isalso to ask what should be taught. Hence, developing assessment measures challenges usto clarify what we believe should be our educational content, methodology, and goals.Similarly, in taking on the task of developing a model by which to assess student learningin the visual arts, we have had the opportunity to formulate and apply certain generalvalues and beliefs about education. These will become evident throughout this handbookas we present the goals and rationales for PROPEL accompanied by examples of howteachers have used this approach. We hope, in presenting this model, to inspire and helpeducators define, clarify, and make public their criteria for assessment.This handbook is one of four produced by the Arts PROPEL project. In addition tothree domain specific handbooks, one each for visual arts, music and imaginative writing,there is a companion general introductory handbook which presents a morecomprehensive overview of the Arts PROPEL philosophy.A HISTORY OF ARTS PROPEL IN THE VISUAL ARTSArts PROPEL began with a series of dialogues among researchers, teachers, andadministrators across arts disciplines to establish common goals, strategies, andvocabulary. Such cross-disciplinary dialogues have continued throughout the project,serving to coordinate efforts and, in some cases, to expose principles and practices commonacross domains. At the same time, researchers and educators within each domain haveworked closely together to develop and test PROPEL theory and practices.To a large extent, these theories and practices are not new. Rather, they are anattempt to articulate, systematize, and build upon practices already used in excellentdassrooms so that they can be made available to all educators who wish to use them.The project began with the assumption that effective art teachers make intuitivelygood judgments about their students. Researchers believed that working with art teachersgiving them the opportunity to discuss and explore assessment with their colleagueswould help bring inherent standards within art education to light.and their students——The effort to expose successful teaching practices and articulate inherent standardsin the visual arts began the first year as researchers from Project Zero and ETS met with acore group of four Pittsburgh art teachers and two art supervisors. By year four we wereworking with four art supervisors and a core group of twelve art teachers chosen fromdiverse middle and high school settings across Pittsburgh. During the second half of theproject, Pittsburgh received a companion grant from The Rockefeller Foundation todisseminate Arts PROPEL district-wide to middle and high school art teachers.Researchers at Project Zero also began working with teachers chosen from a range ofschools in the greater Boston area. Working together, researchers and teachers developedthe approach to art education described here.6

A VIEWOFTNSTRUCTIONAll educational initiatives are based on implicit beliefs about how students learn.PROPEL is based on the following:1. STUDENTS ARE ACTWE LEARNERSKnowledge, we believe, is not simply transferred from the mouths of teachers to theminds of students. Rather, students take in information, including but not limited to thatdispensed by teachers, integrate that information with their previous experiences andknowledge, and construct new understandings of the world.Such a view of learning has implications for teaching: First, students need to beprovided with opportunities to be active learners. To this end, teachers are challenged toengage their students in an exploration of issues, techniques and concepts central to thediscipline being studied. Moreover, neither the acquisition of skills and techniques nor thecompletion of a final work are ends in themselves. Instead, they are part of an ongoingprocess of experimentation, discovery, and learning.Students, as active learners, are engaged in a process of research and revisionleading to new understandings of themselves, their world, and art itself. Bev Bates, a coreteacher from CAPA, Pittsburgh’s magnet arts high school, describes this approach to arteducation in the following terms:I asked my students what we could do differently to improve theprocess and found that they like discovering things on their own.They make more mistakes but once they figure it out, the informationis theirs. We can’t forget that the end product doesn’t show all thegrowth that occurred on the way.2. MAKING ART IS NOT ONLY FOR THE Gil-TED FEWPROPEL is committed to making artistic activity accessible in a meaningful way toall students, not only those with advanced technical skill or fine rendering abilities. Thus,in a PROPEL classroom, even those students who might see themselves as “not good atart” can discover new potentials, and draw upon a range of capacities. For example, whereskill is not the only concern, teacher and students together can recognize and encouragediverse kinds of art students: the experimenter, the risk taker, the student with imaginativeideas, the one with an intuitive sense of which medium will best express an idea, thestudent who can pursue a problem, who can revise, and rework.In addition, PROPEL can engage students who are stronger in perceptual andverbal skills than in studio skills —students who can identify and articulate similarities anddifferences among works, and strengths and weaknesses in their own and others’ work.Beginning with such skills, PROPEL can help these students become involved inmeaningful studio work.7

3. THE ART STUDENT SHOULD ASSUME THREE ROLES: PRODUCER,PER CEWER, AND REFLECTORIn the PROPEL classroom, arts education involves at least three activities:production, perception, and reflection. These activities are developed and interwoven inthe course experience; separating them becomes very difficult. In fact, the name PROPEL isan acronym in which these three roles are embedded: PRO for production, which indudesan R for reflection; PE for perception; and L for the learning that results. This integratedapproach will come to life through classroom examples throughout this handbook.4. MAKING ART IS THE CENTRAL ACTIVITY iN PROPELWhile acknowledging the educational significance of perceptual and reflectiveactivities, we believe that production should remain the central activity in the art room.Perception and reflection are, thus, conceived as complements to an active involvementwith the materials and processes of art. We also believe, however, that active involvementin art making can inform and enrich perceptual and reflective activities.5. ASSESSMENT IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF LEARNINGOften assessment in the visual arts is based only on the student’s final products. Incontrast, we view assessment as an integral part of learning in which students and teacherstogether evaluate ongoing processes and decisions as well as the final product. Moreover,we believe that student work should be assessed on a wide range of dimensions, resultingin a complex profile of student achievement rather than a single score or grade.THE RELATION BETWEEN PRODUCTION, PERCEPTION,AND REFLECTION IN PROPELPRODUCHONRehearsing, performing, improvising, composing,designing, or otherwise constructing works of art/(N(Noticing connections and makingThinking about the process of making or responding worksofartthrefrvel/8

PRODUCTION, the making of art, is the central componentof PROPEL. Production activities engage students in anexploration of an issue, concept, or medium central to thedomain of art. Reflection and perception grow out ofand feedback into the activity of making.PERCEPTION refers to those processes by which studentscome to see and understand the world around them and to lookclosely at works of art—their own and their peers’ as well asthe work of artists from diverse cultures and eras. In creatingart, PROPEL students are encouraged to draw on their ownknowledge and life experiences; they are stimulated to use all oftheir senses; and are guided to investigate art work and otherresources relevant to their interests and goals.REFLECTION is about thinking, in this case, as it is appliedto the discipline of art. Development of reflective attitudes andcapacities means that students in PROPEL classrooms areencouraged to think, talk, and write about art work and theirown art-making process.Teachers initially model and encourage this way of thinkingand foster communication and an exchange of ideas amongtheir students. Then, through dialogue and personal reflection,students develop an awareness and understanding of themselves as artists and individuals that helps them grow artistically.Nonverbal reflection, of course, also occurs and is evident indrafts, studies, and steps leading up to the final product.Finally, class discussions and critiques, entries in studentjournals, and guided questions integrated throughout thestudio process help cultivate in students the reflective skillsthat form the foundation of self-assessment.9

Selection from Meg Lesniak’s Ceramics 1 Portfolio,Teacher: Nor-man Brown, Schenley High SchoolPROPEL production, perception, and reflection interact to allow increasing studentindependence, even in introductory classes. Here students like Meg Lesniak began withhighly structured assignments designed to teach basic techniques. However, with eachproceeding assignment, students were allowed increasing autonomy and choice until, bythe end of the term, they were developing their own projects based on the experiences andideas gained from earlier efforts.--.,.—4Name plate slab, a class assignment tointroduce students to clay consistencyand slab work.Pinch pot with ornamentation designedby the student based on studies ofpottery from Native American and othercultures. Students also did research intodesigns from their own ethnic heritagefor some of their pots. Snake handled pot, a final projectdeveloped by the student based onprevious experiments as well as studentteacher conferences.10

A VIEW OFASSESSMENTArts PROPEL, as suggested earlier, is part of a growing effort among researchersand educators across disciplines to develop new forms of performance-based assessmentsystems that provide more multidimensional diagnostic information than that yielded bystandardized tests. Emerging at both the state and classroom level, these new assessmentsare interwoven with and inform curriculum, in contrast to standardized tests which occurafter and often outside the learning experience.Similarly, the primary function of PROPEL assessment has been to enhance thequality of student learning at the classroom level. It is intended to help studentsunderstand educational objectives and their own personal goals and to help them monitorprogress toward meeting these goals. It is further intended to help teachers track studentlearning and examine their own teaching practices. To insure the fulfillment of theseassessment goals, PROPEL classrooms may include the following: forums for feedbackand dialogue with students; the possibility for students to return to previous work forrevision and/or for inspiration; student self-assessment coupled with open discussionsamong teacher and students to develop shared standards for evaluating

teachers have used this approach. We hope, in presenting this model, to inspire and help educators define, clarify, and make public their criteria for assessment. This handbook is one of four produced by the Arts PROPEL project. In addition to three domain specific handbooks, one each for visual arts, music and imaginative writing,