Reflections on the Purpose and Structure of the Artist in Community Education Program at Queen’s University: A Case Study

Larry O`Farrell
Faculty of Education, Queen`s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
(Funded by Arts Network for Children and Youth)
Full Reference
O’Farrell, L. and Taylor C.E.(2011) Reflections on the Purpose and Structure of the Artist in Community Education Program at Queen’s University: A Case Study. Technical Report.

Summary of key findings

A qualitative case study was undertaken to examine the exemplary Artist in Community Education (ACE) program at Queen’s University. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants from the ACE 2010/11 cohort to capture both student and program administrative perspectives on the expectations, structure, and success of the program. Inductive analysis was used to analyze the data and determine the four central themes that described the participants’ perceptions of the program. The study reports on the participants’ experiences and concludes by identifying some of the transferable, structural components of the ACE program that may be used to assist other arts-educator programs with their development and success.

The main goals of this study were to clarify: (a) how the ACE program, defined as exemplary, supports the artistic career goals of its students; and (b) if structural components of ACE’s art-based teaching program can be utilized by other artist-educator programs.

The data clearly indicated that the ACE program supported the career goals of its students. Not only did the students leave the program with their teaching certification, but several of them reported having a new career focus and an appreciation for many more arts-educator opportunities than they were aware of prior to entering the program. The students in a variety of ways also reported on benefits to their personal development and of improved self-confidence in their skills as artists and educators.

Research Questions & Methodology

A qualitative case study was designed to capture dual perspectives of the ACE program from: (a) the perspective of a program administrator /teacher; and (b) the perspective of the students in the 2010/11 enrollment year.

An appropriate methodology to achieve the goal of illuminating an educational program like ACE is a qualitative case study in which participants are invited to describe the program. In this case, one of the ACE program coordinators is invited to describe the aims and structure of the program in the light of his/her own administrative responsibilities, and the student candidates are invited to describe their career goals and experience in ACE. Qualitative methodology has particular relevance to educational research (McMillan & Schumacher, 2006; Patton, 2002). In April 2011, in advance of participant selection and the commencement of data collection, ethics clearance was obtained from the General Research Ethics Board of Queen’s University to proceed with the study.

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