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

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Name of Author: 
Woon, Sheralyn Sher Lin
Thesis (M.A.) (Instructional Design & Technology) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Looi, Chee Kit
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

More schools are embarking on One-to-One technology programmes to engage students and maximise learning. It is imperative that more should be known about these programmes. This study examines how visual communications skills can be improved with the Tablet Personal Computer (TPC) and aims to test the schools’ assumption that technology can help students learn better. A resolution was sought for the following questions: whether the TPC is a user-friendly drawing platform and could support continuous drawing for the duration of an Art lesson in Secondary schools, what kinds of pedagogical possibilities for learning does the TPC allow and if the TPC would improve visual communication abilities. This empirical study took place in a school where a One-to-One technology programme has just been established. Most students in this school own their TPCs. A small sample from one level of this school was used in the study. The impact of the TPC on visual communication ability was measured in both Qualitative and Quantitative terms. The Clark’s Drawing Ability Test instrument was used to measure improvement in drawing ability while a survey and researcher’s notes were used to gauge the qualitative impact of the intervention. The Adobe Photoshop software was used during the intervention. The intervention scheme of work was designed according to the Ministry of Education, Art Unit’s recommendations for students to learn to draw by first studying artwork made by master artists and then by creating art through exploration. Students were also exposed to Art Appreciation skills for the first time. The results of the study found that the TPC could support continuous drawing during an Art lesson and was user-friendly to both students and teachers. The TPC also improved visual communications skills and its pedagogical functions engaged students. This improvement in visual communication skills was only observed when the TPC was used. The improvement was not transferred into another medium like paper and pencil. It was also found that the TPC offers many pedagogical opportunities for co-operative and interdisciplinary learning. The role of the teacher is still of prime importance to ensure that learning is meaningful and correct. During the process of the intervention, other issues like the CDAT instrument validity, students’ apathy for Art and software licensing issues arose. These issues are also discussed in this paper. The overall findings validate the schools’ belief that technology can help a majority of students do better. Some students were very engaged and their Visual communication skills improved when the TPC was used. Only a small number of students could not exploit the affordances of the TPC because of a lack of prior knowledge of using IT. Although students found the learning meaningful, this learning was not deep as they could not transfer new Art knowledge or TPC drawing skills back to the paper and pencil medium. The TPC could neither help students draw any better using the TPC stylus nor improve students’ drawing skills on paper and pencil. Although there were shared competencies between these two different types of drawing, drawing on the TPC was different from drawing on paper with a pencil. Further study is needed to measure the effect of the TPC on higher order thinking skills.

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