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A Story of How One

Teacher/Researcher/Artist
Learned to Use...

ARTs- BaSed ReS ARch

Arts-Based Research (ABR): A way to generate new understandings of phenomena while engaging
with the arts. Arts-Based Research highlights subjective and contextually specific ways of knowing as
opposed to producing universally generalizable findings (Barone & Eisner, 2012; Cahnmann-Taylor &
Siegesmund, 2008; Leavy, 2009; Rolling, 2013).

Rebecca Shipe

I discovered the usefulness of ABR during my sixth


year of teaching art at a public elementary school in
the southwestern United States. At this point in my
career, my practice resembled a well-oiled machine as I
continually adapted to the conditions and expectations
of the educational climate. Consistent procedures, time
efficiency, clear expectations, and resourceful use of
energy and materials were hallmarks of my art classroom
environment.

The following story reveals how my experience using


ABR allowed me to see this well-oiled machine in a
new light. As a form of narrative inquiry (Clandinin &
Connelly, 2000; Meier, 2013), acknowledging my relational
and reflexive researcher position produced a fresh set of
reflective tools that will help to maintain and renew my
practice in the future.
While employing an emergent research design, I began
with the intentionally open-ended question, What might
I learn about my teaching practice through reflective
visual journaling? The resulting studys theoretical
grounding exemplifies narrative inquiry (Riessman, 2008)
as my analysis of particular, contextually specific
phenomena generated new personal insights. In turn,
I hope that these insights will resonate with others
as they build personal connections to the story I tell
through pictures and words.

What might I learn about


my teaching practice
through reflective visual
journaling?

The following narrative inquiry describes how


Arts-Based Research allowed me to use reflective
visual journaling as a way to create unexpected
understandings of myself, my students, and
my practice. What began as informal sketching
as a way to decompress after the workday
transformed into an exploration of how drawing
can generate and communicate unique insights.

May 2016

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