A study on the effectiveness and impact of inquiry-based approach in the learning of art criticism

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A review of the current literature on developing students’ critical response to visual arts reveals a heavy reliance on using art criticism models in schools. The learning of art criticism is generally seen as an engagement of students in various language tasks, such as describing, analysing, interpreting and evaluating. Geahigan (2002) disagrees with the view that the learning of art criticism is a discursive practice and conceptualises it as a process of inquiry. Building on the theory of Geahigan, the present study developed, field-tested and evaluated an inquiry-based model for learning art criticism. Using ‘design research‘, a systematic and rigorous method of seeking out tested improvements in learning situations, as the principal methodology, the study investigated the effectiveness and impact of inquiry-based approach in the learning of art criticism with around 160 senior secondary school students. Two groups of secondary schools teachers and students were invited as participants. They formed two groups of equal numbers, with one group as the experimental group and the other as the control group. The experimental group was taught with inquiry-based curriculum plans and the control group was taught with their own school curriculum plans. Students of both groups were asked to write a piece of art criticism essay before and after the implementation of the curriculum plans. The essays were then marked by independent makers. Results indicated that the performance of both of the groups in the essay improved after one academic year. However, the experimental group achieved a significant improvement in all domains, including both the core elements of art criticism (e.g. description, formal analysis, interpretation, and judgment) and some general writing skills. More important, results demonstrated that the overall improvement of the experimental group after the implementation of inquiry-based art criticism leaning was significantly greater than the control group. This paper will report on the theoretical framework, methodology, implementation and results of the study. The effectiveness and impact of inquiry-based art criticism learning will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


art criticism
secondary school teacher
learning situation
research planning


Tam, C.-o. (2017, May). A study on the effectiveness and impact of inquiry-based approach in the learning of art criticism. Paper presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Visual and Performing Arts, Titania Hotel, Athens, Greece.