UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Lee, Jean Say Ying
Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Yeap, Lay Leng
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

The visual arts offer the child opportunity to develop creative and intuitive approaches to problem solving and provide a balance to the child's school program with its emphasis on science and mathematics. Earlier national focus on a building a unified system of education for all races and on responding to economic pressures of a fledging independent nation in the 1960s, has given way to the development of thinking skills and the nurturing of creativity and a society appreciative of the arts and culture. Paradigms have to be changed. Schools have to re-examine their goals as students have to learn not only how to think but how to think critically and creatively and to be appreciative of the arts. This focus on critical reflection and on the arts has led to this study as critical reflection has along legacy in the visual arts in the particular. Moreover, the ability to draw is often associated with a creative person, hence, it would be of great interest to examine art education in Singapore. There are at present, two art programmes in schools. Four secondary schools follow the Art Elective Program (AEP) while all others follow the non-art Elective or general program. Of interest would be questions like - How does the art student process information? What are the cognitive profiles of these two groups of students? Will they match? Are art students perceived to be creative students really right brain functioning? Such cognitive profiling, defined as patterns of cognitive functions unique to the individual (Yeap, Chong, & Low, 1997), will give a qualitative picture of the hemispheric capabilities of the subject. This, in turn, has implications for curriculum. The study found that the art students, in general, performed better on their left brain functioning tasks. However, there was also movement towards a mean score of zero in their cognitive profile which indicated whole brain functioning. On closer examination of the groups in terms of age, the younger students, that is, the 14-15 year old, were left brain functioning but their counterparts, the 16-17 year old, were right brain functioning. In terms of gender, the females had a more integrated brain functioning than the males. The study also found that the AEP group obtained a higher overall cognitive performance mean score than the non-AEP group. What was also interesting was that in both groups, age was a factor influencing performance. The 14-15 year old had a better mean score than the 16-17 year old. In the final chapter, the study dealt with a number of implications that arose. Through the cognitive profiles, proposals were made to the curriculum to benefit the students, for example, the curriculum planner could take into consideration when students would be especially receptive to certain segments of the programme

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