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Children’s School Lives Study: Report 7

Children’s School Lives Study: Report 7

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Overview of Leaving Certificate Art

The Leaving Certificate Art specification is presented in three inter-related and inter-dependent strands.

structure of specification

The specification is presented in three strands: Research, Create and Respond. This does not mean that work will always follow a linear approach. Each one is dependent on the other two and all are interconnected and supportive of the artistic process.

The three interlinked and interdependent strands of Research, Create and Respond also serve to signify the importance of the symbiotic relationship between the learner, the practical work with which they are involved and their understanding of the place of, and emphasis on, Visual Studies within their work. The visual expression of all aspects of culture, created by past, recent modern and contemporary societies, is called Visual Studies. It may also take account of the medium they have been expressed through or the ideas that underpin their creation as well as the rationale behind curated exhibitions in gallery or museum spaces. In all three strands, learners should experience examples of Visual Studies alongside the practical work they are engaged with.

Research Strand

Students will learn how to become a visual researcher. As part of the research process, they will learn to select a stimulus, choose relevant primary sources and develop, rationalise and contextualise their ideas and work further. The learning outcomes in this strand address the research methods employed within a visual subject, including the recording of these within a visual sketchpad. Learners will have the opportunity to also use their locality, including galleries, museums, architecture, public sculpture and more, for research purposes.

Create Strand

Learners will be engaged in the process of making/creating art from conception to realisation using a range of skills and chosen material(s), as appropriate. They will create work based on a starting stimulus, respond to it and develop it as their work progresses.

Respond Strand

Learners need to understand that in Art they can, and do, react to artwork, whether it is their own or another’s. They will learn to stand outside of their own work and to reflect on it critically. Learners will also learn about and learn from aspects of Visual Studies, which will help to increase their knowledge of Art and so inform their opinions of their work and the work of others.

The Art specification is designed for 180 hours of class contact time.

Recent developments in curriculum and assessment at senior cycle have focused on the embedding of key skills within learning outcomes. This is accompanied by a different approach to assessment in which students can generate responses that reveal the depth of their understanding. The embedding of key skills requires careful consideration of the balance between knowledge and skills in the curriculum and in learning, and of finding appropriate ways of assessing them.

pie chart

There are five skills identified as central to teaching and learning across the curriculum at senior cycle. These are: Information Processing; Being Personally Effective; Communicating; Critical and Creative Thinking; and Working with Others. It is important for all learners to develop these key skills to achieve their full potential, both during their time in school and into the future. This will allow them to participate fully in society, including family life, the world of work and lifelong learning. This specification is designed to help learners develop skills as they build on their knowledge and understanding of Art and form positive attitudes to learning. The key skills are embedded within the learning outcomes of the specification and will be assessed in the context of the assessment of the learning outcomes.

Learners will engage with the fundamental concepts of Art through participation in a range of learning activities where they will encounter the key skills in an integrated way.

Learners will experience the key skills of Information Processing as they research the work and ideas of other artists but equally as importantly through their own recorded observations and drawings of the world around them. They will learn to think critically and creatively as they use their observations and knowledge to innovate and create their own personal approach and responses to a stimulus.

Through the act of creating, learners will see the need to communicate their intent clearly to various audiences, so their ideas and work are better understood. At times, learners may work collaboratively and through this they will learn from others, but more importantly will be engaged in a social experience involving the understanding of interpersonal dynamics. This is a skill that they will need as they move on from school and become adults in society. However, to be able to fulfil their role as a member of society, learners need to be aware that it is important to gain the skills required to be personally effective. They need to gain an understanding of setting personal goals, working to a timetable or deadline, choosing and using resources effectively and acting autonomously. This is even more important should they go on to work and live in a field where Art plays a role, as at times the main impetus to create work comes from within.

Throughout their time in senior cycle, learners are encouraged to develop the knowledge, skills and values that will enable them to become more independent learners and to develop a lifelong commitment to improving their learning.

While the learning outcomes associated with each strand are set out separately this does not imply they are to be studied in isolation. The learner’s engagement and learning are optimised by a fully integrated experience of all three strands. Learners will be expected to engage with a wide range of activities supporting an enquiry approach throughout their experience in Art, most of which will be captured within their Art sketchpad. As they progress through senior cycle, learners will build on their knowledge, skills and values incrementally.

The learning outcomes in Art cannot be fully achieved through the study of any content, or the experience of any skills, within any one single strand. In planning for teaching and learning, teachers build on their learners’ previous knowledge, skills and values and identify pathways through the specification where the learner is taken from the point of basic knowledge to comprehension and application of it in increasingly complex situations. By the end of senior cycle learners should be more independent and be able to evaluate information, form opinions and clearly express intent in both the work they create as well as the art they learn about.

Art supports learners in the development of learning strategies that are cross-curricular and will enable them to become independent learners. As well as employing a variety of teaching strategies, a range of assessment strategies will be used to support learning and provide valuable feedback. In this way, the teaching and learning activities experienced across senior cycle can be modified in ways that best suit individual learners. By setting appropriate and engaging tasks, asking higher-order questions, giving feedback that promotes learner autonomy, assessment will support learning as well as summarising achievement.

There are a broad number of areas of practice available within Art for learners to study. While all may not be available within a specific school setting, learners can study any of those areas of practice available to them in a range of traditional, contemporary, new and/or digital media or a combination of these. Through their chosen discipline(s), learners use media to interact, create, connect and communicate with others.

The visual expression of all aspects of culture, created by past, recent modern and contemporary societies, is called Visual Studies. By researching, creating and responding, learners will learn to know and understand the work they make as well as works by other artists. The term art used throughout this specification is taken to include the areas of fine art, design and craft in a range of traditional, contemporary, new and/or digital media. Using appropriate critical and visual language, learners will be enabled to consider the discipline and use of media these works have been expressed in and through, including understanding the ideas and contexts that underpin their creation. It is also important that learners understand their own role as artist. As they learn more about Visual Studies, it may influence their own thinking and making. To help achieve this, a Visual Studies Framework has been developed. It sets out to answer three main questions that are important to Visual Studies: What was created? How was it created? Why was it created? Separate guidelines on Visual Studies will be produced to support this specification.

The Leaving Certificate Art specification is differentiated in three ways:

  • through the learning outcomes of the specification
  • in the process of teaching and learning
  • through assessment.


Differentiation through the learning outcomes in the specification

Learning outcomes should be achievable to each learner’s ability level. They promote teaching and learning processes that develop learners’ knowledge and understanding incrementally, enabling them to respond, analyse, evaluate and apply knowledge to different situations as they progress. For example, although learners at Ordinary level and Higher level can both ‘critically analyse’, the context, information and results are examined at different levels.


Differentiation in teaching and learning

Learners vary in the amount and type of support they need to be successful. Levels of demand in the different types of learning activities will differ as learners bring different ideas and levels of knowledge, skill and understanding to them. Learners will be enabled to interact at their own level through the use of strategies for differentiated learning such as adjusting the level of skills required, varying the amount and the nature of teacher intervention as well as the pace and sequence of learning.

Teachers can meet the needs and interests of all learners through the many possibilities available to them in Art. Teachers, in planning for differentiation within their classroom, can use inquiry methods to focus on practical knowledge and skills development or to build the learner’s knowledge and understanding of examples of Visual Studies. By combining both, teachers will give learners the opportunity to think critically and creatively about the work and processes they are involved in and see the relevance of examples of similar work and processes through experiences of Visual Studies. Teachers can adjust for learning based on the work and processes being undertaken in the classroom so that it complements the needs of their learners. For example, the teacher may begin by focusing the learning on using topics of local interest before broadening this out to encompass examples of wider Irish or world culture.


Differentiation in assessment

Assessment of Leaving Certificate Art will be based on the learning outcomes in the specification. Learners will be assessed at two levels, Higher and Ordinary. All learning outcomes may be assessed at both Higher and Ordinary level. At Higher level, the learning outcomes will be assessed at the highest skill level as demonstrated in the action verb of the learning outcome. At Ordinary level, the learning outcomes will be assessed at a moderate skill level, focusing on the demonstration of a basic understanding of knowledge, skills and values and their application.

In the practical assessment components – practical coursework and an invigilated examination – the stimulus will be the same for both components at both Higher and Ordinary levels. Differentiation will apply in how learners have researched and processed their ideas and information, applied knowledge and skills as they evaluate their own ideas, and worked to create two realised pieces. Differentiation can also be applied in assessing their responses to their work and research and in the production of their realised and original work.

The written examination in Leaving Certificate Art will be assessed at two levels, Higher and Ordinary. Examination questions will require learners to demonstrate knowledge, understanding, application, analysis and evaluation appropriate to each level. Differentiation at the point of assessment will also be achieved through the stimulus material used in the examination, and the tasks set out for learners at the two levels.

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