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How mature adults view the effects of participation in a community visual arts class on their daily lives

The global population is ageing, due to a reduction in birth rate and increasing life expectancy. As a country, New Zealand statistics predict that these changes will impact in the near future, and there is increasing pressure on the need for a functioning older population. The social and educational wellbeing of mature adults is an vital area of research to identify solutions, thus reducing the impact on the generations which support the economy. Research has linked visual art participation to enhanced curriculum learning as well as benefits to social, mental and physical health. Reported learning outcomes include skills, such as memory, imagination and fine motor skills, however research beyond the curriculum largely centres on wellbeing aspects. Whilst this still has relevance in education, this study’s primary focus is the educational effects of visual art participation. Specifically, the aims of this study are to explore mature adult’s perceptions of the changes which are created by learning in visual art, and the effects of these changes on their everyday lives. This research investigates whether active participation in visual art classes may be of value to the mature population through the development of skills and social benefits. The research question investigated in this thesis is: How do mature adult participants view the effects of a visual arts class in a community setting on their daily lives? Participants, who classified themselves as beginners in visual art, attended six weekly two-hour classes, which included drawing, design, printing and painting sessions. They were encouraged to develop drawing skills, and given the choice of completing either a self-portrait or a portrait of someone close to them. They then designed and made relief printing blocks to represent aspects of the person they had drawn, and used these to create a background for their portrait. The end result, for the participants, was a complete artwork which demonstrated their progress in learning specific visual art skills. I used qualitative methodology, including an open-ended questionnaire prior to the first of the visual art classes, a reflective journal to record my thoughts of the art classes and their flow (reflecting on how this relates to the planning) and semi-structured interviews with each participant following the completion of the six visual art classes. The findings indicate that participation in a visual art class in a community setting effects a perceived increase in the visual and creative skills of participants, as well as their problem-solving and listening skills. In addition to this, participants described growth in social bonds, both within and outside of the class, and self-concept. Growth of skill and self-belief were key outcomes of this learning and appeared to improve through positive social interaction. To use visual art participation as a tool in the wider community may benefit older members of the population and, in turn, benefit us all.
Type of thesis
English, H. (2019). How mature adults view the effects of participation in a community visual arts class on their daily lives (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12695
The University of Waikato
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