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

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Name of Author: 
Bert, Said Mohamed Isham
Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Matthews, John
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

In the assessment of intellect and personality, drawings play a prominent role, often an indispensable one, particularly where verbal communication is impaired or repressed. At such times, the drawing may be very helpful in gaining an understanding of the individual's state of mind. Drawings should be regarded as a valuable item in a comprehensive evaluative procedure. In such assessment, the contribution made by drawings varies from person to person; it may be strikingly revealing, vague, or contradictory. The child with learning disabilities may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics: hyperactivity, perceptual motor problems, frequent mood shifts, lack of motor coordination, short attention span, be easily distracted, impulsive, have problems with memory and thinking, problems with reading, math, writing, spelling, speech and hearing. Additionally, the child might have abnormal neurological patterns, social problems and what has been called "learned helplessness" (Alley & Deshler. 1979). Treatment methods include : process training (perceptual motor drills including art), multi-sensory methods in which several senses called upon. Classroom activities may have to be structured in such a way as to structure and reduce stimulation. This might involve teacher-directed tasks and a class environs in which few distracters are present, cognitive training (self-instruction, self-monitoring and reciprocal teaching), behaviour modification (token economics and positive rewards for attending behaviours) and direct instruction. Medication might also be required. Art can aid in learning sequencing and teaching independent learning skills. Art experiences, because of their inherently individualised nature, can be tailored to fit the specific strengths of each child. Often art can provide an ongoing successful experience of great value to a child with learning disabilities who may rarely encounter such success in other subjects (Anderson, 1983). The validity of the conclusions derived from observation, experimentation, and the scoring systems devised from Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Third edition (WISC-III), remains questionable. On the other hand, any attempt to interpret child art within a single theoretical framework can only result in frustrating oversimplification. Statistical studies are valuable in revealing similarities and trends in drawing, as in other behavioural expression. Many have and are attempting scientific investigation of personality, however, the methods of scientific investigation, impressively successful in the physical science, have not been able to penetrate the depths of personality that distinguish one individual from another because no two are alike. The study of individual differences in behaviour will be more productive when it takes into account the significant contributions of the disciplines that converge on human variety. Interpretation remains a subjective procedure. Other readers may disagree with my interpretation.

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