Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy: How These Dimensions are Enriching Visual Arts Education for Ethnically Diverse Students in New Zealand Secondary Schools

Jill Smith


This article reports on findings from two complementary research projects conducted in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Both projects were motivated by changing demographic statistics from a largely European-ethnic student population in secondary schools in the past, to an ethnically diverse one in the present. Each project focused upon the nature of New Zealand’s national curriculum and assessment policies for visual arts education, and the pedagogical practices of art teachers. European-ethnic art teachers comprise the majority in secondary schools, thus the research in 2015 centred on how these teachers are working alongside ethnically diverse students. Given that there is a growing population of Asian-ethnic students in secondary schools, the follow-up project in 2018 focused on how art teachers of Asian ethnicity are supporting these students to engage in experiences that express their cultural identities. The findings provide evidence of how art teachers are using the curriculum, assessment policies and culturally responsive pedagogies to enrich the nature of visual arts education for students of all ethnicities in secondary schools in this country. The findings are exemplified through the ‘voices’ of a sample of art teachers, and ‘artworks’ by 15-18 year old students which encapsulate the role of images as a powerful form of data.

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