Developing a new conceptual framework for pre-university art examinations

The research topic was external assessment for art and design at pre-university level (age 17+). The research field was focused on formal assessment in art education, especially on the visual arts at the end of secondary schooling (ages 17-18). In the literature terms such as art, arts, art and design are used in the context of art education. Through the study such terms were used interchangeably according to the context. The principal audience for this study included key stakeholders in the national examinations in Portugal – government, government agencies, university admissions systems, and art teachers. It may also be relevant to the international community of researchers in art and arts education and related subjects and specialists in arts assessment in general.The study was undertaken in two stages:

(1) analysis of current art examinations at pre-university level in Portugal and England and

(2) the development of a conceptual framework for external assessment in art education in general, and a pilot and trial of a new instrument and assessment procedures for art examinations in Portugal.

The first stage included three sections: (1) The literature on assessment was reviewed and current problems in assessing the arts were identified, including issues of quality such as reliability, validity, impact and practicality. It was established that valid and reliable assessment in art education required assessment instruments with clear instructions and criteria that allow multiple evidence to be considered and that such assessment procedures should include provision for in-service teacher training, standardisation and moderation. A conceptual framework was developed for evaluating art examinations. (2) The current Portuguese system of art examinations (age18) was critiqued. Analysis of relevant documentation and questionnaires conducted with Portuguese art teachers and art students enabled identification of key issues such as the lack of validity and reliability in the system, as well as collecting proposals for alternative improved forms of assessment. (3) The English system of art and design examinations (age 17+) was partially reviewed through direct observation of one example of examination procedures, analysis of documents and the recording the views of selected stakeholders.

The second stage also included two sections that described and evaluated: (1) the design and piloting of a new framework for external assessment of art education in Portugal based on a portfolio assessment extended task, in-service teacher training and standardisation procedures; (2) the trial of a new external assessment instrument and procedures in five schools in Portugal. The new assessment instruments and procedures were compared with the current Portuguese art examination, establishing that greater validity and reliability was achievable.

The study concluded with discussion of the negative and positive aspects of the proposed conceptual framework, the implications for assessment stakeholders in Portugal including the need for reform in Portuguese art education. Further research into alternative forms and methods of assessment was also recommended.

Year 2004
Type Thesis
Institution University of Surrey Roehampton
Degree PhD
Supervisor(s) Dr. John Steers and Dr. Cyril Weir
Language English
Field Art Education