Picture Delightful Calculations

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Walz, Loretta
Drawing , Design , Geometry , Shape Grammars , K-6 Education
This research presents an argument for situating shape grammars as the core component of drawing and design through observation, and as a core component for improving spatial reasoning and visual spatial perception, especially in the practice of geometry and its relationship with algebra. The research demonstrates the potential for drawing and design to be taught throughout the curriculum, especially at the primary level. As my results show, the craft is, at its essence, transdisciplinary and one that ties all subject matter together. Those who have championed the importance of skills such as sketching, drawing, and design as being integral to the visual arts, have had their words fall on deaf ears in both broad educational contexts and in art education itself which. In part, this is because there has been no real way to standardize a best practice for learning a technique that is ambiguous. My research addresses this head on through the development of the ESPIAL (Elucidating Six Points for Insight Analysis of Likeness) tool. The tool offers a standardized means to assess the drawing process without determination of outcome. This research consisted of a 10-week intervention with pre- and post-testing where students in Grade 3 and Grade 4 were taught to draw and design using shape grammars. This mixed methods study took place in four sites in and around Montréal, Québec, Canada. The results showed students improved in standardized tests that measured visual motor integration and spatial manipulation tasks. Qualitatively, this research demonstrated that the shape grammar approach improved children’s drawings substantially. Children were able to render what they saw with nuance and sophistication. In particular their ability to manipulate, interpret, and see in multiple perspectives calls into question notions of stage development theories that place cognitive limitations on children’s vision based on age alone.
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