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Pedagogy Foundation Programs page 3

 
 

The programs were very effective with all students having consistent educational experiences. The interrelationship of the different courses was better understood by students because of how the program was conceived.

The Kansas City Art Institute and the Minneapolis School of Art were the two principal advocates for this type of Foundations program. Very few institutions adopted this type of program because operationally it was not cost effective compared to other concepts. It locked up space, it limited tuition income because of restricted enrollment to one hundred to one hundred twenty five students. Instructional costs were higher than most other institutions because of reliance on all tenure track faculty. There was a greater investment in facilities with a larger operating budget. This mode of instruction clearly favored students and educational quality over operational costs.


Open Enrollment and Multi-Sections
Between 1955 and 1965, there was a growing proliferation of visual art programs at universities, and especially so in public institutions. The first Fine Arts program within the university was at Yale University around the middle of the nineteenth century. Painting, sculpture and drawing were first brought into universities as a liberal arts experience, and later they became separate programs of study. During the 1930s and the arrival of the Arts and Crafts movement into America, a number of craft programs in ceramics and weaving were introduced into curriculums. Industrial design was first taught at Carnegie Institute during these same years. After World War II, some combination of photography, printmaking, industrial and advertising design (after 1965 it became graphic design), fashion, ceramics, wood-working, glass-blowing and jewelry design were added to the Fine Arts program at most universities.

Universities tend to allow open enrollment into the Foundations program. The majority of students enroll to elect as preparation for an art major but a number of enrollees take Foundations as a liberal arts elective. Enrollments at the entry level range from one to four hundred students at most universities.

Some programs have one full-time person who serves as the coordinator for introductory studies. One or two full-time instructors from the disciplines might be assigned to one or more sections, and the balance of instruction is handled by graduate students and part-time instructors. Students are divided into sections of 20 to 30 students per section. In many programs, there are eight to eighteen sections for drawing, design and color.

Visual art programs in universities tend to be dominated by Fine Arts personnel and philosophies. This still holds true although enrollment in design generally is larger than Fine Arts.

Most university entry programs are little more than a one-year indoctrination to the institution. There are limited benefits from the experience of doing, and the introduction to materials and media, but the overall learning experience tends to be minimal. There are too many students, too many sections and instruction is generally poor to fair making the educational experience between sections extremely uneven. All to often, pedagogy is weak with misplaced emphasis and little to no relationship between sequence of exercises and courses. Unfortunately, those basic programs with too many sections, overreliance on graduate students and ineffective programs of study are educational disaster areas.

The university open enrollment and multi-section foundation program is blatantly oriented toward operational interests. At universities, funds are frequently allocated on the basis of enrollment, and more than one administrator has been heard to say that larger classes with more students and less teachers were needed, or that studio programs would do better to create some lecture courses to increase enrollment figures. While enrollment figures are excessively high, instructional costs are minimal because of reliance on graduate students and part-time faculty with lower salaries and no benefits. Multi-use space for instruction is extremely efficient. Operating budgets and facility requirements are minor or nonexistent. Students are cheated of the education they believe they are receiving, and the multi-sections foundations program should be a subject for guilt and shame by the university.

Foundations Within Schools
With the advent of Schools as divisions within the college, occasionally foundations is divided between Fine Arts and Design with either having its own program. In my opinion, design programs do a better job teaching basic design within the major than do the fine arts. Schools are comprised of related disciplines. Design is more pedagogically oriented than fine arts, but when the design foundations serves several different disciplines such as industrial, fashion, graphic, etc., it can suffer from many of the same problems as entry level fine art programs in terms of uneven instruction, too many students, too many sections, weak instruction, lack of program, etc.

However, if the proper variables are in place, it can be done effectively. There generally are fewer students and design faculty tend to be methodical in sequencing courses and program content is based in pedagogy of one kind or another.

 

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