Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Harper, Brian

Subject Headings

Art Education, Middle School Education


Multiple access points for visual art education exist within the nation’s schools and communities. How these diverse school and community contexts collectively impact the development of student visual art achievement and perceived competence has not been sufficiently researched. The purpose of the study was to identify student, community, and school factors that impact middle school students’ achievement and perceived competence in visual art. The study sought to contextualize the structures and policies that shape visual art instruction within the nation’s schools by building understanding of how visual art experiences influence adolescents at a crucial moment in their social, emotional, and academic growth.

A nationally representative sample of 4,000 8th grade students nested in 260 schools from the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in visual art was used in the study. A two-level hierarchical model was used to determine the extent to which school and community practices and characteristics predict visual art achievement and perceived competence when student-level variables are controlled for. Findings revealed that schools’ frequency of instructional offerings, percentage of blacks and Hispanic students enrolled, and amount of community resources used were positively related to students’ perceived competence and achievement in visual art, regardless of student-level variables such as race and self-directed experiences.

These findings suggest that schools and community organizations should collectively leverage resources to provide supportive visual art learning networks for students. School administrators and teachers should recognize the impact of self-directed visual art experiences by engaging these experiences in both art and non-art classrooms. Schools should also advocate for an active visual art education agenda to create and maintain more authentic family and community connections. Community art organizations should direct funding and programming resources to grow active networks of school administrators, and support self-directed visual art experiences through active family programming and access to resources. Further research to extend our knowledge of the dynamics within diverse communities that enhance visual art outcomes is recommended.

Included in

Art Education Commons