Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Paul Sproll

Second Advisor

Nancy Friese

Third Advisor

John Chamberlin


This thesis looks at how arts education can respond to the context of the 21st century by focusing on critical thinking and contemporary art in visual arts education. I argue that art as a subject has the potential to educate youth beyond mere aesthetic, formal art skills. Its inherent flexibility to encompass all interests, cultures, and backgrounds makes it a truly inclusive subject and the multiplicity that follows provides students with opportunities for cross-associative and critical thinking. If utilized in an education context, it can be the necessary conduit for engaging students, respecting their intrigues, and offering a space to critically understand their priorities. The research questions that guide this thesis are as follows:

1. Has the role of art education diametrically changed for the 21st century student and why? What new empowering roles can art education assume today? How is critical thinking incorporated currently in arts education?

2. How does art education promote critical thinking among students? What are the underlying challenges and changes needed in enhancing critical thinking in an arts education context?

3. What are the distinguishing features and qualities of contemporary art that enhance art education?

Included in

Art Education Commons



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