Creative Iconology: A Conceptual Framework for Instruction in K-12 and Pre-Service Visual Arts Education

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Third Advisor

Dr. Tamara Rosier


For over 25 years, art education programs in institutions of higher education have largely advocated for Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE) teaching practices. In today's contemporary art education circles, many have advocated for other or additional teaching philosophies and trends, though DBAE still holds sway in the field. This study sought to (a) identify current movements in art education teaching philosophy, (b) distinguish promising practices, and (c) determine a conceptual framework for instruction in art education. This contemporary, conceptual framework for instruction referred to as Creative Iconology.

This study used qualitative methods by interviewing 20 administrators and professors in institutions of higher education art education programs that are recognized by their peers as leaders in the field of art education. The interviews were conducted to describe, understand, explain and identify the contemporary and future trends in art education teaching philosophies and classroom practices.

Several contemporary art education trends were explored including DBAE, multiculturalism, and others. Participants discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each of these trends, and made suggestions for future implementation.

The conceptual framework of Creative Iconology is based on three art education trends that these leaders saw as important, with modification: Discipline-Based Arts Education, Visual Literacy and Meaning Making.

Using this conceptual framework for instruction enables students to learn to interpret visual images well enough to recognize symbolic messages and hidden meanings. Students may also learn to create, develop and communicate meaningful messages of their own, as well as develop the skills, techniques and artistry required to create meaningful and aesthetically pleasing artwork.

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