Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Paul Sproll

Second Advisor

Dr. Shana Cinquemani

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas Mckeeff


In this thesis the author sought to discover linkages between Art, Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Cognitive Science through a review of scholarship surrounding the integration of cognitive theories, art, and education. There have been numerous studies that claim that art education in elementary and secondary schools improves students' academic performance, interpersonal skills and improves attitudes to life. Nations meanwhile constantly modify standards and frameworks for teaching and learning in the visual arts. However, despite these changes, the author wondered to what extent, if at all, new standards-based visual arts curriculum frameworks were responsive to concepts within cognitive theory. This qualitative study analyzes the National Visual Arts Standards through a cognitive lens in order to detect the level of their connection to developmental theory. The author's interviews with practicing K-12 art teachers reveal the extent to which their curriculum design and teaching and importantly their students benefit from close alignment to cognitive science. The thesis concludes with thoughts for educators and policymakers that emerged as a result of this investigation and which may be transferable to diverse educational locations and in particular the author's home - China. This thesis does not claim to be exhaustive in the depth of its investigation, but the author hopes it provides valuable insights into the benefits of greater integration of cognitive science into art education. Further, it is the author's hope that the thesis provides a platform for her own further study at the doctoral level.


View exhibition online: Zheng Yao, Cognitive Development & Art Education

Included in

Art Education Commons



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