Report on CAA 2015, New York

AHPT hosted two sessions. The first paper explored the value in applying the Scientific Method to the creation of Knowledge in Art through re-imagining connoisseurship and provenance documentation in a traditional art curriculum. The second paper investigated trends in transforming the traditional first-year art history survey into a World Art History course by re-imagining the curriculum through re-design and on-line resources.

Please contact the presenters directly.

Scientific Method and Knowledge in Art
Dr. Jeffrey Taylor, Assistant Professor of Arts Management
Purchase College, State University of New York
jeff.taylor@purchase.edu

This practical teaching session addressed the intellectual processes of Scientific Method and the creation of Knowledge in Art. The presentation simulated the suggested curriculum, beginning with a lecture that explained the tenets of Scientific Method, and then described the foundations of connoisseurship as well the other essential underpinnings of knowledge in art: provenance documentation and scientific materials analysis.

Teaching Transculturally: Online Resources that Support a World Art History Approach
Nathalie N. Hager, Ph. D. Candidate
The University of British Columbia
nathalie.hager@ubc.ca

This presentation reported on and evaluated the strengths and limitations of current and emerging online resources that can be used in the first-year undergraduate survey classroom to teach art history transculturally. A number of options were explored, with focus on three in particular: MIT’s Visualizing Cultures; the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History; and a new project under development at the UBC Okanagan campus entitled WHAM_World History of Art Mashup.

CAA’s 103rd Annual Conference Reflection
Josh Yavelberg, University of Maryland University College
joshyavelberg@gmail.com

The questions of outcomes, pedagogical trends, and the future of the survey are currently in question in light of these mounting concerns. The development of communities of practice such as Art History Teacher Resources, ArtHistorySurvey.com, Computers and the History of Art, and Art Historians Interested in Pedagogy and Technology further demonstrate the growing desire for the scholarship of teaching and learning in art history for consideration as an important and necessary issue within the discipline. Finally, the latest CAA annual meeting directly discussed such issues and the desires for developing and recognizing such scholarship moving forward (CAA Education Committee, 2015).

The art history survey course currently stands at a precarious point in the face of mounting pressures from trends and policies in higher education and culture. The survey may regain its importance in helping students develop skills in history, visual literacy, research, writing, and other cross disciplinary outcomes that are required, if not essential, as a twenty-first century learner. In progressing the pedagogy of the art history survey, the survey can meet the challenges of the 21st century (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2002) and further the scholarship of teaching and learning beyond its discipline. The discipline calls for a common set of objectives are set before the art historical community for a more focused direction for leadership of future research and pedagogical practice.

CAA conferences demonstrate a trend toward discussions of technology and pedagogical practice in the art history survey. A review of sessions describing topics related to art history pedagogy since 2003 demonstrates a marked increase in 2006 as described by Wheeler (2006), and the trend fluctuates between three and fifteen papers delivered annually at the conference. Within the association, committees such as Art Historians Interested in Pedagogy and Technology (Formerly the Art history Technology Consortium), the CAA Education Committee, CAA Student and Emerging Professionals Committee, CAA Museum Committee, Pedagogy Issues Forum, Advanced Placement (AP) Program in Art History, the Visual Resources Association, and the Community College Professors of Art and Art History have all chaired sessions with topics covering art history pedagogy since 2003 (College Art Association, 2015). The list of sessions also often describes poster sessions regarding the topic of the study of teaching and learning delivered by such recent organizations as Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR) and a rotation by the CAA Education Committee between topics related to art and art historical instruction.

Often the CAA only holds one or two panels discussing the topics of the study of teaching and learning. This constitutes a small proportion in relation to the entire conference, but the sessions are well attended as noted in the recent panel by the CAA Education Committee, “Learning to Teach and Teaching to Learn: Developing a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for Art History” delivered at the 2015 conference in New York (College Art Association Education Committee, 2015). The topics questioned the direction of scholarship in the study of teaching and learning and made calls for a journal to legitimize research in the field and aid professors interested in such topics with their tenure process (D’Alleva, 2015). Beyond the CAA, several communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) are continuing to deliver content in the study of teaching and learning. These include Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR) and ArtHistorySurvey.com, which are both growing communities of practice that rely on contributions and review of material by a growing body of experts in the field. These trends describe a growing population of art historians interested in the study of teaching and learning that are growing more connected through the benefits of the digital age, thus organizing toward scholarship in the area; however, all of the research currently remains disjointed, without formal direction, or established support from the leading scholarly organization, CAA.

As I attended the latest CAA conference with an eye toward my dissertation research attempting to better understand the state of SoTL within the discipline, a discipline that is in great need of progress in this area to maintain relevant with the current generation of students and trends within higher education. The Education Committee’s session was highly attended as the panel included well known figures such as Beth Harris and Steven Zucker from Khan Academy. I regret that my own research was not further along as I was also approached to speak with this panel. The main conclusion was a need for a supported venue of scholarship related directly to SoTL in Art History. I quickly rose to the challenge and found several others with interest, even installing an Open Journal System on ArtHistorySurvey.com to begin a venue that may house such scholarship.

The concern over the direction of this scholarship became more evident to me as I attended the business meeting and panel for Art Historians Interested in Pedagogy and Technology (AHPT). My concern was due to the lack of involvement by attendees with this organization that was clearly dedicated to the pursuit of SoTL specifically related to Art History, whereas the Education Committee rotates their panel across artistic disciplines. Unfortunately, when inquiring at the Education Committee about who would be attending the AHPT meeting and panel, many claimed no knowledge or interest. The result was as I had witnessed in the past in attending the business meeting for AHPT, lacking.

AHPT has a focused mission and the advantage of an annual panel at the CAA conference. Their session described transcultural approaches and the use of scientific method to guide art historical practice. As in the past, I came away from the session with a strong energy to engage my own courses and to continue to believe that there is a future for meeting the educational needs of art history, as scholars are rethinking the discipline and its place within the academy. Sadly, this session was not as strongly attended as the earlier Education Committee session which may be due to lack of publicity, a poplar scholar, or even the timing of these sessions. Despite these issues, it would behoove CAA to place more direct support in the area of education and innovation if the discipline wishes to remain relevant within higher education.

I look forward to the future CAA conference where AHPT plans a session, “A Signature Pedagogy for Art History in the Twenty First Century.” This session will undoubtedly strike at many of the issues that I currently find within art historical education and the importance of the CAA to place more emphasis on such issues while the Education Committee will most likely continue their disciplinary rotation and perhaps abandon the momentum produced by their session this past year. With better publicity, AHPT may find a resurgence within CAA, and gain the support it needs to move forward with scholarly production.

Contact Josh Yavelberg to learn more about www.ArtHistorySurvey.com, a community of practice regarding art historical pedagogy.

References:

College Art Association Education Committee (2015). Learning to teach and teaching to learn: Developing a scholarship of teaching and learning for art history. Cempellin, L. & Sienkewicz, J. Chairs, Paper session presented at the meeting of the College Art Association, New York.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2002). Learning for the 21st century. Tucson, AZ: Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=925&Itemid=185

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York, N.Y: Cambridge University Press.

Wheeler, D. L. (2006). The arts & academe. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(27), A10-A11.

College Art Association. (2015). College Art Association annual conference: History of annual meetings and conferences. New York: College Art Association. Retrieved from http://www.collegeart.org/conference/history.

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