Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art Education


Art Education

First Advisor

Dr. Pamela Lawton

Second Advisor

Dr. Sara Wilson-McKay

Third Advisor

Dr. Ryan Patton


Cultivating a more socially just, democratic classroom community is a best pedagogical practices qualitative case study. This study is designed to explore how three Virginia elementary art teachers define and create a democratic classroom community, inside their art rooms, through the implementation of various instructional strategies within the physical, social-cultural, and pedagogical spaces of their classrooms. Such instructional strategies may include a shift in power dynamics, student-centered art, choice-based art, and a big idea/real-world issue-orientated curriculum (ex: visual culture, social justice, democratic pedagogies). Each of the three selected participants were interviewed and asked to describe their classroom practices as well as provide examples of ways they perform any or all of the various instructional strategies mentioned. The data in this research study was collected through a digital survey, interviews, raw field notes, audio recordings, and visual journal entries. The responses to the interview questions were then coded and analyzed to compare and contrast understandings of the participants’ pedagogical practices. This study concludes that the perceptions of these progressive instructional strategies varied among each participant, however, they ultimately all fall on the spectrum of a democratic classroom community.


© Kelly M. Fergus

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Date of Submission