Confident Classroom | Skillshare Projects

Honoria Starbuck

Artist and Teacher



Confident Classroom

__________Second Draft ____________________Posted 9/15/13

Confident Classroom
Contextual Inquiry and Participatory Design – Plan and Methodology


-   To identify and understand motivations for students to succeed in first year drawing courses

-   To identify and improve the most fun and effective learning activities that motivate students to achieve the objectives of the drawing courses

Focus and Topics

The focus of this research is on ways to boost student confidence to experiment with diverse drawing tools and techniques.

We’ll explore topics related to gamification, self-evaluation, varieties of tools and techniques for drawing, video tutorials, and live demonstrations.

Activities and Method

The design research uses Participatory Design Contextual Inquiry as its primary research method.  

The context is two sections of ART 108 a freshman Observational Drawing class.
The participatory design is to encourage students to create activities that will promote achieving the objectives of the course.

Teacher will observe students in three sections of the same course. The observation will focus on the following activities:

  1.  Introduce an activity labeled as created by the teacher, observe the participation, and ask students for short reflection.
  2.  Introduce an activity labeled as created by previous students, observe the participation, and ask students for short reflection.
  3.  Ask students to create game-based activity that will create drawings that satisfies one of the course objectives.
  4.  Ask students to create a points sheet that will provide self-evaluation to be considered by the teacher a
  5.  Test student-created activities and assessment ideas with other sections of the same course.

Participants and Context

  1. Participant Profiles: This research will focus on students in their first year.  I plan to include the following profiles in our school. 
  • Just out of high school
  • Entry level employee wanting to level up
  • Military veteran
  • Non-traditional older student returning to school

I plan to include the following academic programs in our school.

  • Media Arts and Animation
  • Game Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Fashion Retail Management
  • Interior Design

I plan to include 2 age groups:

  • 17-20
  • 21-40

Session Details

Each research session will be an element in the 4-hour class.
Classes will introduce drawing tools and techniques.
Each class will include one activity associate with the research.


This research will be conducted for a full term starting on September 30th with a goal of assembling preliminary findings by Week 5 (mid-term) November 2nd and final data collection with a wrap up activity in Week 11 as part of the final class on December 13th.

Discussion Guide / Script


During this course we will be conducting research about student confidence in drawing.  We are looking for tools, techniques, attitudes, activities, and anything else that helps you to become confident when you draw.  This is active research.  You are the expert in the way you learn best and whether or not you are more confident in one activity or another.  We want to tap your expertise in order that this class is the best for first year student success.

Your inclusion in my research is voluntary. However, the research activities are also part of the curriculum and you must complete all assignments.  I will not include your assignments in my research if you opt out of being included in the research.  Your name will not be in my research report.

Explain and distribute informed consent

Foundational Interview: (20 min)

This will be a student-to-student interview.
A worksheet with all the questions will be passed out to all students.
Students will work in pairs to fill out the interview with each other.
Then students will use the answers to the interview to introduce their partner to the class.


Announcement:  Our first day interview will give everyone in the room a picture of our individual interests and collective confidence level. 

The theme of the interview is "When are you most confident?" Fill out this worksheet with your partner then introduce your partner to the whole class. Hand in the worksheet with your interview notes.

FOUNDATIONAL INTERVIEW WORKSHEET: First day of class student-to-student Interview prototype:

What is your name, age, and major?

What alternative name would you like to be called?

What's your job outside of school?

If you are not now working what was your job just before you started school?

Briefly tell how you've been a group leader in:

Video games
Family events

I feel most confident when I'm _________________ because _______________________
(What's fun about it?  What's challenging about it?)

My best learning experience was __________________________

What made that experience the best? ________________________________

Week 1 Introduction

In addition to the day’s course material there will be time for Take control of your learning! Participatory design! activity.

Weeks 2-4
Work in teams. Create a fun activity related to an objective on the syllabus and an art supply, technique, to tutorial you’ve found online. 
Class will vote on the best activity.
All students will complete the activity the next week as part of the class.

WEEK 5 – Reflection

Part of the midterm will be team reflections on their activities, the successful activities, and the process of designing their own learning events.  Based on previous experiences this refletion will start with individual teams filling our a guided reflection form then reporting their group work to the class.  At this point the class will have the opportunity to discontinue the project and it will end.

Project Ends


Week 6-11 Project Continues

The mid-term reflection will indicate if students had or built the confidence to creatively develop learning tools out of the resources in the room, the school, and the Internet.

Weeks 6-9 One participatory design period per class with the addition of creating a method of how to assess the success of the activity.  Students will create 3-aspect rubric as part of the activity design.

Week 10 Review for final – no participatory design in this session

Week 11

If students opt to continue developing their own projects it will indicate high group confidence.  Observer will look for indicators of participation, respect, leadership as the project continues. Students will be prompted to change groups and change roles in the groups.


Teacher observer will observe for indications of individual changes in confidence by looking for changes in:

  • participation in the activity
  • engagement with new art supplies
  • implementing new and evolving drawing strategies

Teacher observer will collect artifacts of all student team designs.

Final Reflection

As part of the final class students will reflect on their projects over the term and make recommendations for the next semester’s class.

Teacher observer will go to Europe and between continental adventures compile an exciting blog post on the results of the semester project, then present the findings at the next faculty development day and earn great respect from her peers.

___________First Draft ______________________

Hi All, I'm excited to be here and look forward to learning from you and gaining insights into your design processes!

PROBLEM: I teach at the Art Institute of Austin. Our students often have little art training other than public school.  Some of them have high computer literacy others have very little.  Many of them have trained themselves and been trained by peers to think school is boring or even painful.  Many of my students lack the confidence to be experimental or even to speak out in class. I teach the early classes in the program so I have an opportunity to turn the students from passive to active learners that will enhance their chances of earning a degree.


I have been experimenting with a number of strategies to engage my students in their own learning.  Some of the things I do are sandboxes as seen in the photo. 

- Sandbox is a voluntary extra credit hour each week in which students play with a different drawing medium.  In the picture they create India ink monsters on postcards that they can send in the mail.

- Grade Points form is a personal system of assessment consisting of a questionnaire each class (4 hour classes) upon which students give themselves grade points and write a brief message to their future selves on what they learned in that session. From this I can pinpoint students who lack writing and reading skills, miss the definition of key words in the design vocabulary, have low or high self-esteem. 

PROGRESS These innovations have made the students more open and empowered.  I'd like to  continue on this path by continuing to evolve my teaching practices to build the confidence of my students.

I'd like to continue to learn more about what works in teaching my particular student population of students who are often unmotivated, distracted, and lack confidence.

Also I'm a Learning Junkie and want to be a participant/observer in the dynamics of this course.



I'm thinking of a first day interview that will give everyone in the room a picture of our individual interests and collective confidence level.  Here is a draft of the first day interview based on my experience with other first day interviews in which the question was "What was your best learning experience?" 

In the first day activity pairs of students interview each other, then introduce their partner to the class.  That part works well but I'd like to learn a bit more to subtly foreshadow the confidence building aspect of the class group activities and to gain a base level of information.

This is a rough draft of a new first day interview.  I would like to get my students' input on the questions and your thoughts on ways to revise this draft.

First day of class student-to-student Interview prototype:

What is your name and major?

What alternative name would you like to be called?

What's your job outside of school?

Is our job related to your major? __not at all __low level __I have a decision-making role

When do you have the most clean fun?

What's fun about this activity?

Color in the skill level you have for this activity (I will have a little themometor and red pencils for coloring.)

Briefly tell how you've been a group leader in:

Video games
Family events

<Some of my students won't talk about anything but video games. Good think I've read Jane McGonigal:-)>

I feel most confident when I'm __________ because ____________
(What's fun about it?  What's challenging about it?)


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