Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


James H. Rolling


arts-based research, arts education, critical pedagogy, ethnography, social justice, teaching artist

Subject Categories



There is increasing inequity in access to arts education among students in the United States that corresponds to an increase in demand for teaching artists - career artists who apply their artistry to teaching and learning. These increases have been documented both as a benefit and as a threat to arts instruction that is provided within standardized public school curricula. In turn, policy debate has emerged around professional positioning and development of teaching artists. This arts-based ethnographic study investigates resistance by teaching artists in the United States to policy recommendations for formal credentialing of the work that they do (Rabkin, et al, 2011). The researcher, as a participant in the study community of over forty teaching artists who contributed to the Teaching Artist Journal "ALT/space" blog, engaged in ethnographic fieldwork for over two years. Through content analysis, interviews, and exquisite corpse analysis of narratives, a critical community of practice theory emerged as a structure for better understanding individual artist, learner, and teacher roles in an arts education ecosystem. The arts-based blending of methods within this study reflects a dynamic tension between artistic and educational practices that can be found at the core of teaching artist practices and may be of value to future education research and advocacy.


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