Ultimately, a fine arts education encourages students to become lifelong learners who are motivated by internal drives to know, do, and accomplish. While extrinsic motivators—grades and other motivating strategies that do not directly communicate how and why art is valuable—can be useful teaching aids, they can be over-used and draw students’ attention away from the lasting benefits of creating artistic works. The use of intrinsic motivators—motivation techniques that cultivate belief in the integral value of learning—is central to fostering a student’s self-direction in art.
The following instructional strategies are intended to help fine arts teachers cultivate intrinsic motivation in their students. Make art personally relevant:
- Incorporate students’ personal experiences, social concerns, and cultures into lessons. Also, relate content identified in the Fine Arts TEKS to life beyond the classroom.
- Discuss the reasons for activities with the class, explaining how specific tasks fit into the structure of the discipline as a whole. Make connections to previous learning experiences in art.
- Share experiences with students that show how and why the fine arts are personally meaningful to you.
Foster creative thinking and learning and utilize students’ curiosity:
- Ask questions and propose problems that encourage diverse approaches to artistic problem solving and that stimulate creative thinking.
- Introduce new and challenging materials in class and encourage experimentation.
- Design activities that have unpredictable outcomes.
Teach independence, responsibility, and self-direction:
- Give students choices of what and how they learn. Involve students in the process of planning when appropriate.
- Create arts environments that give students responsibility for their own learning. Address the many different learning styles of students to provide equitable opportunities for success.
- Scaffold knowledge and skills to build students’ confidence. Scaffolded instruction enables students to build on previous skills in order to face increasingly difficult learning experiences. Set challenging, achievable goals to encourage success and increase the challenges as students’ confidence and trust grow.
Practice constructive assessment:
- Help students recognize quality work in the fine arts by using evaluation criteria developed over time and by modeling the application of criteria to a variety of projects.
- Give specific feedback to help students recognize their own strengths and needs. Consider students’ learning over a period of time. Encourage students to reflect on their processes and products and search for ways to improve their art production.
- Ensure close alignment between assessment and the instructional sequence, teaching practices, and course content.
Recognize and document student achievement:
- Encourage to keep journals, sketchbooks, or portfolios of their ideas, projects, and achievements. This is a good way to document student growth.
- Organize exhibits of student work in the classroom, school, and community.