MAT Courses

The MAT combines summer semesters on our beautiful Vermont campus with fall and spring semesters in the student’s home community. 

Students take part in both Core Courses and Workshops. The standard MAT curriculum is as follows:

Core Course Descriptions

Introduction to Art Education: Issues, History, and Research

This course will explore the history of, and contemporary issues in, the field and profession of art education. Through readings, teaching experiments, studio activities, and discussions, we make sense of key concepts in our field. We draw on insights from the learning sciences, pedagogical theory, and research methods to develop the skills graduate students will need to make meaning from their upcoming observations of teaching and learning.

Art Education, Diversity, and Social Justice

In this course we will examine theoretical frameworks and practical implications of teaching art in a culturally diverse, democratic society. Through readings, reflective journaling, studio activities, peer teaching, discussions, and written work we will engage with concepts such as intersectional identity, white privilege and institutionalized racism, heteronormativity, ableism, classism, and other forms and structures of bias that encroach on students’ and teachers’ lives in and out of schools. More positively, we will learn about ways to engage in pedagogical practices that strive to make the world a better place for all.

Global Issues, Grassroots Solutions: Creatively Engaging in Socio-Political Action

This is a theory and praxis seminar to consider contemporary issues and practices of participatory inquiry, collaborative investigation, public pedagogy, and social action with an emphasis on visual methodologies.

Students will analyze practices of participatory inquiry in response to social and cultural issues, situations, and challenges taken up by visual artists and interdisciplinary collectives who intend their work to construct new knowledge and positive change through collective action. Students will discuss and identify societal situations and propose possible responses as sites for participatory inquiry. A key focus of the course is on the exploration of theories and practices of collaborative inquiry in the public sphere with emphasis on visual methodologies. The course revolves around related and overlapping concepts such as participatory democracy, participatory culture, ideas to actions, collaborative inquiry, collaborative design, community-based research, and action research.

The course is intended to broaden perceptions about contemporary art inquiry practices, the interdisciplinary roles of art and artists in society, community-based projects and inquiry, and ways collaborative artmaking and cultural production can function as forms of research. Course content focuses on community artworks, interdisciplinary creative projects, and other forms of cultural production created for and existing within the public sphere in response to specific issues, challenges, and conditions.

Examples of such work include public murals, public performance interventions (Richardson, 2010), environmental responses, community health, and change (McLean, 2011), and social media activism (Jenkins, 2006), among others. The course will provide a forum to consider the translation of participatory inquiry into meaningful art education practice. Each student will (1) produce a critical analysis of one or more practice of participatory inquiry by collaborations among artists, cultural workers, and other individuals and (2) will construct a proposal for a study intended for implementation within the public sphere.

Reading Our World: Teaching Media and Visual Literacy

This course presents a theoretical framework, instructional strategies, and curriculum development to teach PK-12 students to critically analyze visual culture. This course provides an overview of the approaches and strategies art educators use to incorporate media and visual literacy into their teaching practices. This course will teach you how to teach students to critically analyze visual culture, especially media objects.

We live in a world inundated with many different kinds of media, and media literacy experts argue that students should be able to access, analyze, understand, and produce various forms of media. This course will address the following questions: What is media and visual literacy and why is it an important area of learning for students today? Why is media literacy relevant to art and visual culture education? What does it mean to be visually literate? How do art educators facilitate the process of critical inquiry of visual culture by PK-12 students?

Fieldwork Observations

The purpose of Fieldwork Observations is to expose MAT students to a variety of proven art education settings and pedagogical approaches, observe where and how theory meets practice, and discover the setting most suited to their career plans. Direct observation of diverse educational practices and settings is essential to a pre-service educator. Through observation and reflection, students will narrow in on their potential career goals, learn from experienced educators, develop questions, inspire research, and share their experiences with their cohorts and advisors.

Our program, with its low-residency structure, offers an incredibly valuable asset in the observations our diverse student body share. Far from homogeneous, observations will be made at geographic, economic, and culturally diverse settings, encouraging conversation, debate, and dialogue. Candidates are encouraged to take advantage of this requirement to explore educational and artistic interests, and visit types of educational programs they want to know more about. Most important is to experience varied settings and observe/assist a diverse range of learners.

EC/ELE Visual Art Methods: Creating, Researching and Enacting Early Childhood/Elementary Visual Art Methods, Materials, and Environments

This course addresses developing and enacting a studio environment/pedagogy for young children that provokes creativity, reflection, theory & practice, mindfulness, connection, craft & diverse material usage, studio habits of mind, and relationship (with materials, environment, community, teachers, parents, and children.)

PK-12 Special Education Methods: Teaching Art to Students with Special Needs

In this course, students will immerse themselves in Special Needs pedagogy and how it connects to art education theory and practice. Art Education curricula and pedagogy is researched and analyzed through the lens of special needs populations. Case studies demonstrating curriculum adaptation in the art education classroom for individuals with special needs are studied. Lesson plans are researched, written, discussed and shared. A written curriculum demonstrating a typical art education unit and the adaptive strategies for an individual with special needs is required.

Curriculum development, with specific focus on special needs inclusion, will be a main component. Articulated and personalized differentiation will be examined and reinforced. Building curriculum for the ½ day VCampFA Special Needs session will be accomplished, with the camp being an in-depth hands on lab where candidates will gain experience and valuable practice. The afternoon after the camp experience will be time to share, reflect and analyze both the experience and the candidates’ own performance, methodology, and evolving practice.

MS/HS Media Arts Methods

This course prepares artist educators of all disciplines to develop and conduct their own media arts-based, or media-arts integrated course for 7-12 students. Students will gain a foundational understanding in media arts educational topics and the interrelated issues of arts, technology, creativity, learning and 21st century culture. This course provides substantial and robust experiences in the theoretical pedagogy and practical implementation of media arts instruction for 7-12 classrooms. Students will examine and utilize media arts educational methods, concepts, tools, models, and curricula in order to develop their own media arts instructional unit for implementation. The course presents the key elements, principles and processes of media arts pedagogy for educators to effectively form engaging and rigorous learning experiences for diverse learners at all developmental levels and learning dispositions. Students will be engaged in readings, discussions, and media arts presentations, processes and projects in order to gain proficiency in a variety of core competencies in learning, teaching, and interdisciplinary integrations. 

MS/HS Visual Art Methods: Building Curriculum Around Visual Literacy, Social Action, Cultural Context, Personal Expression, and Contemporary Theory and Practice

This course prepares artist educators of all disciplines to develop and conduct their own visual art course content for MS/HS students. Students will gain a foundational understanding in visual arts curriculum development, topics in pedagogic theory, assessment techniques, and the interrelated issues of arts, instructional integration, creativity, and learning. A foundational base of the course will be a 21st c. theoretical/practical introduction to the concept of pedagogy as attentive to issues of diversity, including the needs of diverse individuals and communities and various ways diversity is represented and identified. 

Art and Humanity: Developmental Psychology and Art Education

This course explores a broad overview of human development, with particular foci on sociocultural components, artistic development, and how to apply theories of learning and development to pedagogy.  

Student Teaching

Vermont offers three different options for Visual Art Certification: PK-12, PK-6 and 7-12. For full PK-12 certification, students must complete a minimum of 60 practicum hours in each grade band, out of a total of 490 required hours.  For either PK-6 or 7-12 certification, all 490 hours can be done in the same grade level. A more detailed description of requirements can be found in our MAT Program Handbook.

Student Teaching in Elementary School

A field-based student teaching (clinical teaching) experience at the elementary level in a public, charter or accredited private school in the student’s home location, supervised by school-based cooperating mentor teachers and remotely reviewed by faculty advisors from VCFA’s Art & Design Education Program. Students participate in a biweekly online forum with a cohort group and their advisor. Students work closely with supervising mentor teachers designing, teaching, and evaluating lessons relating to and expanding on the classroom curriculum. “Take over” of the classroom is expected. A student teacher’s performance during this teaching assignment is assessed using the performance benchmarks of the Five Standards for Vermont Educators, the 10 Principles for Vermont Educators, the Vermont Art Competency Standards, as well as the National Core Arts Standards.  Students maintain and update their program portfolio, in preparation for licensure application. Final assessment of the entire portfolio is conducted by VCFA faculty advisors. 

Prerequisite: All preliminary coursework, GPA of 3.0, Passing score on Praxis II, Approved Practicum Application.

Student Teaching in Middle School/High School

A field-based student teaching (clinical teaching) experience at the middle and/or secondary level in a public, charter or accredited private school in student’s home location, supervised by school-based cooperating mentor teachers and remotely reviewed by faculty advisors from VCFA’s Art & Design Education Program. Students participate in a biweekly online forum with a cohort group and their advisor.

Students work closely with supervising mentor teachers designing, teaching, and evaluating lessons relating to and expanding on the classroom curriculum. “Take over” of the classroom is expected. A student teacher’s performance during this teaching assignment is assessed using the performance benchmarks of the Five Standards for Vermont Educators, the 10 Principles for Vermont Educators, the Vermont Art Competency Standards, as well as the National Core Arts Standards.  Students maintain and update their program portfolio, in preparation for licensure application. Final assessment of the entire portfolio is conducted by VCFA faculty advisors.

Prerequisite: All preliminary coursework, GPA of 3.0, Passing score on Praxis II, Approved Practicum Application.

MAT Capstone Inquiry

The MAT Capstone Inquiry is a culminating project that builds upon the coursework, field observations, and guided reading, curriculum development, and is richly integrated with the student teaching experience. The aim is for candidates to synthesize their knowledge and use it to investigate questions in their practice.  The capstone should reflect a stance of an informed and reflective artist-teacher. Candidates will work one-on-one with their Advisor/Student Teaching Supervisor to develop, write, and present their work.

After completing student teaching and their Licensure Portfolio, students reflect, refine, propose changes to their practice and write on their findings, connecting to research, creative exploration, reading, and pedagogical theory. Students develop an exhibition and presentation of their work. Candidates are expected to present and defend their capstone work to the VCFA community and to submit to our Graduation Journal “Otherwise”.

Workshop Descriptions

Expanded Media Workshop

This workshop is designed to find the connections between digital media and traditional printmaking methods, looking into processes and materials that make use of analogue and electronic strategies. There will be discussions surrounding the approaches to making work that is born out of research and experimentation. As the technological world grows at an incredible rate, many traditional and non-traditional processes have become a source of a much richer investigation. These investigations come into play in the printmaking field offering the artist even more complexity and directed specifics into their work.

With methods utilizing simple technological tools such as cell phones, copiers, and basic desktop printers combined with simple traditional methods of print that might include transfer methods, simple relief processes and stencils, a multitude of results can occur. Practical work and formal issues that will be discussed could take on the subjects of transparency, multiples, scale, reproduction, and most importantly image development. This is a hands-on workshop, experiencing the physical manipulations of images and focusing on conversations that the group might have involving further ideas and suggestions.

Thinking about Space, Place, Community: A Workshop on Social-Spatial Practice

This participatory workshop will explore contemporary artists' and art educators' focus on socially-engaged art and spatial practice. Offering a hybrid model ("social-spatial practice"), this workshop examines the art of working with people and physical landscapes, and considers its impact on creative and pedagogical practices.  Workshop participants will engage in hands-on creative activities in the field, working individually and collaboratively to document and envision local spaces built upon values of cooperation, equity, justice, and sustainability.  

Community Building, Transformation and Social Action Through Street Art, Murals, Sculpture and Community Art Events

When collaborative projects expand from the classroom, they become public projects. We are and can all be a collective of artists who build strong and healthy communities through public art and community collaborations. Arts should be a part of civic life and community development.

Appearance and function of a public space strongly correlates with economic, social and cultural well-being of the population that shares it. The neighborhoods thrive when the residents know each other and share the same physical area. Children are healthier and learn better in neighborhoods that offer opportunities to go outside, enjoy fresh air and interact with the neighbors. However, they step out of their private places only if the public place is safe, clean, inviting and motivating. 

Healthy communities are built around opportunities for their members to express themselves and to be responsible participants. Building projects where everyone is invited, and everyone feels welcome to come and express themselves is the goal. Our focus is on projects that creates and maintains outdoor creative spaces and brings artists and educators to collaborate with the local community. 

Interactive works of art generate a cohesive atmosphere and powerful creative energy in the environment internal and/or external. Collective art making on a large scale combines elements of research, group-decision making, choreography, performance art, storytelling and planning. Valuable lessons are taught through an organic and colorful process. Collaborators strengthen their self-confidence, patience and discipline.

The shared and participatory approach to urban and small community living depends on educated, skilled and creative residents. The goal is to empower residents and especially the young generation through educational workshops, creative use of public spaces and opportunities to be the organizers and promoters of their own heritage, culture, vision and future.

Studio Activation

In this workshop we will make a collective project that will set the tone for the VCFA/MAT ARTLab, which will serve as a creative home base for the students during their residency. Building community through engaging and vibrant art actions is the key ingredient to the very successful art, education and activist approach. Activating the studio space to encourage and elicit energy, we will collaborate on approaches to making, engaging, experimentation, planning and strategic foundation building.

I Am You/You Are Me: Building and Advocating for Sustainable Art Education Communities

Vibrant communities of invested art education advocates and practitioners are vital to the growth of the field. In Brooklyn, N.Y. Hawley Hussey developed a team lovingly called BAKED ALASKA. We were a variety of stakeholders that wanted a public Jr. High School and multiple funders to recognize and support the potential of an arts integrated community and curriculum. We built a place in the school where all were welcome to learn and participate in our process. Parents and students could make art together. Classroom teachers could find support and new ideas for integrating art into a wide variety of subjects. We became known as the partnership of mystery and beauty (like the dessert!). Our small team eventually opened a public High School in the Bronx (Bronx Envision Academy) and we are about to have our first graduating class of 2015. Sustainable art and education partnerships are a place where unlikely teams make art together, share meals and practice, visualize goals, and process and celebrate outcome! The BAKED ALASKA model has been reproduced at many public schools in NYC. Hawley will share documentation and stories from the field as well as provide some hands on inspiration.

Art Education and Special Education Considerations and Constructs

In this summer workshop, students will have the opportunity to explore the various aspects of special education as they relate to arts instruction. We will cover the basics of Special Education paperwork, including how to read a psychological profile of a student and extract meaningful information for instruction. The legal implications of the law and its impact on parents, school community, society, and art curricula are presented and discussed. Regulations governing special education will be addressed, including IDEA, (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) IEP (Individual Educational Plan), LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) and inclusion. We will also look at the various learning profiles common in children with disabilities and discover the strengths they can bring to the arts classroom, as well as the supports that they may need. Special attention will be paid to students with autism and behavioral and emotional challenges. Additionally, we will discuss working with paraeducators in your classroom and ways to empower them to provide strong support to all students in the room. Throughout the workshop, students will be provided with extensive opportunities for hands-on practice of their new skills, both by interacting with documents and by observing and critiquing videos of other professionals working with students with disabilities.

3D Materials and Methodology for the classroom

The 3D methods workshop will focus on ways to incorporate the exploration of three-dimensional design in the art classroom. Participants will learn both simple and complex techniques that can be used in both individual and group scenarios. Participants will explore the implications of using varied materials from a formal, social and ecological lens. Student will also discuss the power of the process of creating a physical object and the transformation possibilities that can ensue. Student will be able to create a project based lesson plan that integrates three-dimensional design, research and contemporary issues.

English Language Learners (ELL) in the Art Room: Engaging and developing expressive meaning making

In this workshop students will learn how to use the WIDA Rubric and ACCESS data to create meaningful experiences for English Language Learners in the art classroom. Students will learn how to read an ACCESS score report and use that to inform scaffolds and differentiation for English Language Learners. This workshop will focus on developing accommodations for progress in reading, writing, speaking and listening within an arts curriculum using the WIDA can do descriptors.

Drawing For Process, Drawing from Experience, Drawing From Life: Experimental and Representational Drawing

This series of three workshops teach methods for drawing by focusing on technical choice, personal expressivity, communicating information, narrating a story, creating a system, or conjuring a reality. Through hands on drawing challenges students will learn exercises that can be used as a reflective tool that personalizes classroom content. This class is recommended to students already familiar with the basic elements of teaching drawing from observation and who are ready to explore advanced methods that can be used in a variety of classroom situations.

1. Drawing From Objects
In this two-hour workshop, students will learn drawing exercises that free-up technique and broaden students vocabulary for drawing from objects. Class time will be devoted to a series of short, medium, and long-timed exercises that teacher students can use to strengthen their own and future students confidence in observation, mark-making, and creating unique and personal drawings. The workshop will end with a section devoted to basic methods for leading meaningful class critiques.

2. Constructing a Narrative
In this two-hour workshop, students will learn methods of drawing, collage, montage, and the Kuleshov Effect as storytelling techniques. These hand-on activities encourage not only illustrative but also using cellphone apps, such as Vine, to produce narratives that can communicate simple stories. This workshop is full of improvisational teaching techniques that support storytelling in the classroom.

3. Drawing Big Ideas
In this two-hour workshop, teaching students will review examples from informational graphics to experimental drawing techniques that get as representing big ideas. Students will then pick from a menu of conceptual challenges, tackling it these hands-on activities during studio time, and sharing the results with classmates. This workshop introduces elements that support students communication, instruction, and prototyping skills.

Exploring Assessment in the Visual Arts

Assessment of learning in the arts is too often considered as an afterthought, but Dr. Hetland’s view is that assessment done well is fundamental to good teaching. Using a range of hands-on techniques, Dr. Lois Hetland will help participants envision different ways of designing and conducting formative and summative assessments in the visual arts. These assessments help teachers make sense of students’ artistic products and processes, and give insight into the artistic habits of mind they are developing.

Dr. Lois Hetland is Professor and Graduate Coordinator of the Art Education Department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Senior Research Affiliate at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Trained in music and visual arts, she taught elementary and middle school students for 17 years. Currently, she is co-authoring a book on Studio Thinking for elementary educators.

Course Schedule

Year 1: Summer

Core Courses

Workshops (3-5 offered each residency)

Year 1: Fall/Spring

Year 2: Summer

Core Courses

Workshop Courses

See full list under Year 1; 3-5 Workshops are offered each residency.

Year 2: Fall/Spring

Graduation/Year 3: Summer

Capstone-Thesis Exhibition and Presentation