Insights

This project investigated what insights can a pre- and post-test (paired sample t-test) analysis of both the Grit scale and Academic Buoyancy scale provide over a 14 session period focusing on building skills in 3D design and printing? As well as, what insights might emerge from studying an after-school program for 5th and 6th graders that focused on building resilience through art and technology integration? These questions were answered by collecting pre and post-test scores of both the Grit scale and Academic Buoyancy scale, collecting quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires (Daily Questionnaire and Exit Questionnaire).

 

Building an Understanding for Grit

The community definition of grit was created by the club, but each student seemed to have their own interpretation of it based on their personal struggles, whether it was not being able to speak up, giving up when frustrated, not liking Tinkercad, or experienced sadness leading to tears. Interest correlated with confidence and pride, two other positive emotions connecting to Lucas, Gratch, Cheng, and Marsella (2015) findings indicating that grittier people had more positive emotions and expectations, connecting to the difference in confidence and perspective of grit from a gender perspective. Tough (2016) suggests that grit is built not through explaining but through engagement and building a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006). The approach of

requiring grit instead of students defining grit could potentially change student’s expectations about goals, not as a checklist, but a gradual set of levels to achieve the ultimate goal.  Exampling leads to Yeager and Dweck’s (2012) perspective on the labeling effect.

 

Confidence Gender Differences

Confidence was correlated with being proud, interested, excited, and frustrated, which correlated with motivation and focus. Motivation and focus initiated engagement (deep focus) in persevering towards a long-term goal, also known as grit. It was noticed that girls spoke more negatively about their growth or even their competence in a subject, for example, math. Their negative self-talk was a concern because the self-fulfilling prophecy (Rosenthal, 1966), or Dweck’s fixed mindset theory, could relate to their confidence, pride, and effort when it came to subjects relating to math. Placing a limit on one’s growth is Dwecks (2006) fixed- mindset, where the individual believes in having to be born with the talents, closing their openness, a factor in Grit and creative problem-solving.

 

This seemed to be a hindrance to girls gaining opportunities to learn math and science in meaningful ways because they pre-determined that they were not good at it, stripping their confidence and placing a bar on their academic matriculation with interdisciplinary subjects including math and science. It also could be harmful to the development of their industry and inferiority stage (Erikson, 1968) relating to math. Erikson’s (1968) industry and inferiority stage focuses on students learning respect, following the rules, and learning to cooperate with fairness through team activities, games, and play.

 

The industry and inferiority stage (age six to puberty) relies on approval, and if young girls are being rushed to learn math in a binary format for testing purposes, their pride, effort, and interest in math will be redirected to things they know they are good at which is the opposite of a growth-mindset (Dweck, 2006).
 

 

Passion & Interest

Allowing passion and interest to flourish in students may open their willingness to embark on a creative process, with potential obstacles and frustration. When set-back occur their creativity navigates the processes (Flach, 1980) using resources like peer knowledge, notes, and taking a break to better regulate their emotions through the creative process of making as mentioned by both Heise (2014) and Flach (1980). Creativity grew the most and seems to be a key player in finding resources to enact protective factors against adversity, obstacles, or setbacks helping the student develop a certain command over materials, ownership of work, and dealing with frustration.

 

Important Components in Building Resilience and Creativity

Novelty

When students received the opportunity to work with a new material (including software) they received opportunities to explore the material and make discoveries that they could share with their classmates. As a group they could build their collective knowledge of the software from different perspectives. When students were building their skills with Tinkercad, through playing different games for students to familiarize themselves with the website (session four), they would find a feature and create something interesting resulting in them sharing with at least their table or their neighbor asking about how they acquired that technique or object. Although frustrations still occurred, they had access to the teachers and their peers, enhancing personal resources to work against setbacks (Martin & Marsh, 2008).

 

Personalization 

The personalization of goals was an interesting factor, students would
receive an initial prompt for the activity, but they had freedom to make whatever they wanted. Their motivation to work was intrinsic when their ideation was personal. Students sometimes creatively shifted their goal deeming themselves successful, the same style of thinking Marsh and Mash (2008) identify as a buoyant person knowing they have the ability to respond positively to challenge evaluative performance. Some creatively changing their goal is consistent with Martin’s and Marsh’s (2008) speculation that a person building buoyancy, or resilience, would less likely see academic failure as an obstacle to personal aspirations and self-worth due  to the belief in bouncing back from failure. Their opportunities to engage with technology creatively provided a novel context of creativity intrinsically motivating them to work and learn beyond the academic school day even though certain activity goals were not met.

Frustration

The gradual increase and decrease of frustration, aside from critical
feedback, suggests Kubie’s (1958) argument about the build of old and new knowledge. Erikson’s (1968) description of the industry and inferiority stage focuses on students learning respect, following the rules, and learning to cooperate with fairness through team activities, games, and play. Erikson’s (1968) description of the industry and inferiority stage focuses on students learning respect, following the rules, and learning to cooperate with fairness through team activities, games, and play.

Ownership

It would be recommended that when setting up a classroom focused on combining art and technology, space and lessons should allow students to collaborate to gain knowledge from their experiences and each other, not just the teacher. This builds opportunities for the conflict of industry and inferiority in a social format (Erikson, 1968) to occur. Also, based on Smith (1998), as an art, or maker, educator one way to support students is to recognize their effort and hard work (self-score), but also allow them to share techniques they learned through
exploration or persevering towards a passionate goal (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007);that is an opportunity to present their technique, addresses pride in work and effort (Erikson, 1998) and ownership of their learning and responsibility within the classroom flourish (Mundet, Vaquero, & Urrea, 2014). Students feeling ownership over their work is important to sustain their interest, passion, and pride especially when working with technology in artistic formats.

Space for Art Education 

Using art and technology for creative exploration is an important concept to integrate when developing spaces within a school. The school that the after-school program was held in did not have an official art classroom, it came to their classroom on a cart. There are various reasons why making an art teacher nomadic in the school is problematic, but the main issue is respect for the arts and creating a sacred space for the creative process. Some students had worked with Tinkercad before, but not from a creative outlet where they were in control of their own outcomes, they worked with it for a math or science project, which are STEM oriented. This pushes on a larger issue of educational environments deeming the arts as invaluable unless it improves another subject such as English, Math, or Science, emphasized due to standardized testing. Siegesmund (1998) discussed the issue of politics driving art education and how there needed to be a stronger and cohesive rationale around art education to prevent its marginalization. That article was written 20 years ago yet there is still a clear devaluing of art education in schools, as shown by the school where the program was located.

 

*Data was collected for Education Masters thesis submission *

 

© 2018 by Trisha Barton