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Art Education Research

students in current lab course

Situated within a thriving art school, faculty research in VCU’s Department of Art Education is at the forefront of integrating urban community engagement, digital and emerging media, and arts research and assessment in diverse settings. Faculty have published widely in their research on arts and technology, critical and dialogic thinking, service learning, museum education, assessment, arts-based research, and culturally sustainable pedagogy. 

Research Statements

Ryan Patton
Through his research, Dr. Patton’s explores methods and materials of digital media to question, repurpose, and make meaning in our daily lives. His primary areas of research are games as an art material, physical computing devices and software, socially-engaged art practices, and histories of art education. In his research on games, Dr. Patton has been investigating how games can be a transdisciplinary method to learning the world around us, through the digital curriculum on CurrentLab. Dr. Patton is also exploring how we can repurpose digital devices for personal use and discovery. In this research, he has developed modular physical computing switches, assistive technology software, and co-created an augmented reality mapping surveillance tool called Citysneak. By presenting and creating these kinds of digital artifacts in art and educational contexts, Dr. Patton attempts to initiate conversations about our relationships with technology and how art education can play a role in those conversations.

Melanie Buffington
Dr. Buffington’s research agenda relates to equity. Her main areas of interest are public art, culturally sustaining pedagogy, museum education, the history of art education, and service-learning. Her current research relates to the public art in Richmond and how data visualizations of this art and the laws passed at that time can create a more complete understanding. Another current project relates to the availability of high quality culturally sustaining content for educators available online and through a major materials company. Working with graduate students, Dr. Buffington analyzed the content and created data visualizations to help people understand the representation disparities between white male artists and artists of other cultural backgrounds. A third project underway includes the ongoing analysis of a 3-part survey of undergraduate VCU students engaged in a service-learning program at a local elementary school. The early findings indicate that a year of weekly exposure to students in a high-needs urban school led pre-service art teachers to have less anxiety about teaching urban students, led to the use of more positive words when describing the school and the students, and led to a greater awareness of Whiteness and how it permeates education as well as all aspects of society.