Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Applied Aesthetics: What Students Say about Humanities

Dr  Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog [avrotor.blogspot.com]
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio, 738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday (Phase II 2006 to present)
NOTE: Dr Rotor is co-author of Humanities Today - An Experiential Approach published by C and E Publications Inc 2012
The following findings were derived from the perception and reaction of students who took Humanities in the summer 2005 at SPU-QC.  Humanities or Applied Aesthetics, formerly Introduction to the Arts and Music, is a three-unit subject offered in the second year as part of the general college curriculum.  The findings will shed light to the general impression that Humanities is one of the least understood subjects.  

 SPU-QC humanities students at the St Paul Museum
 1. Introduction
     As a professor in humanities, the author looked into how functional knowledge and skills derived from the course could be best cultivated, and how the historical and philosophical perspectives are inculcated in the student. He believes that this can be done by formulating an  effective way of teaching this broad subject which comprises four major fields, namely visual art, literature, stage play, music and dance.

     One can only imagine how, in a semester’s time – or in one summer period - a college freshman or sophomore could imbibe the subject from the level of appreciation to actual application.  But the author believes in the potentials of the course – if only it could be taught the “effective” way.

     The other consideration why this study was made is to determine to what extent can awareness in the arts be built in so short a period, and how such awareness would affect behavior and perception of the student, not only in the arts, but also about life itself. It would give both teacher and students the idea when appreciation begins so as to influence attitudes and values.

     Does Humanities bring out awareness of culture and history as well?  To what extent does it influence ones perception about the environment, society and the changing times? Is the syllabus of the course sufficient in bridging art’s traditional history and conventional styles with one that is progressive and liberal in keeping up with the call of the times? If this is so, are the students prepared to critique art, not so much for art’s sake, but for its relevance and application in their lives?
2. Profile to the student-respondents
     There are 43 students, all female, with a narrow age range of 17 to 20.  The average age is 17.71. The students are in their second year taking up the following courses
  •      IT (Information Technology)                                  31       72%
  •      HRM (Hotel and Restaurant Management)              8       19
  •      MC (Mass Communication)                                   3         7
  •      Biology                                                                1         2
                                                 Total                             43     100%
     Of the 43 student-respondents, 26 of them or 60 percent are bona fide residents of Metro Manila, while 17 (40 %) have provincial addresses. Thirty (80 %) live with their parents, while 5 (12 %) live with their relatives. In general, the students belong to small families as shown by the computed average number of brothers and sisters, which is 1.69 and 0.87, respectively. This is equivalent to three children per family, two girls and one boy.

3. What students say about the venues of the course.
    The Likert Scale (1 very poor, 2 poor, 3 pair, 4 good, and 5 very good) was used for each question or item.

1.     Classroom (3.67 = Good) The classroom is on the fourth floor of the AdministrationBuilding.  It is quite small for a class of 43. It is newly repainted. Two air conditioning units (window type) units and two ceiling fans maintain favorable room temperature.  Lighting is adequate.
  2.     Museum (4.42 = Very Good) The school museum has a floor area equivalent to two large classrooms. The ceiling is high and floor plan is ideal for lecture-demonstration and workshop.  Exhibits and panel boards are movable to allow students to sit on the floor, or work in groups.   One advantage of the museum as a venue for Humanities is the availability of teaching aids and subject models, like paintings, and its convenience in exhibiting the works of students. The museum also served as “Little Theater” for drama skit presentation.

3.     The Eco- Sanctuary or Botanical Garden as venue for on-the-spot drawing and painting garnered 4.4 or Very Good rating. This explains the enjoyment of students in outdoor exercises and to be close to nature. The Eco-Sanctuary is a miniature replica of a Tropical Rainforest with waterfall and running stream, surrounded with trees.  It has a spacious lawn between small trees, wooden benches and pathways which are parts of the landscape.

4.     The Instructional Media Center (IMC) is the venue for the viewing of The Little Prime and My Fair Lady. The students rated the IMC with 3.54 or Good. Two facilities were used: Audio-Visual Room 1 has carpeted floor, and the TV Barn, temporarily made for film viewing. Both conventional and panoramic screens were used. The films were highly defined, so with the sound system. 

     As a whole, the students rated the venues  - classroom, museum, Eco-Sanctuary and IMC -  4.0 or Good. This shows the awareness of the students on the need for school facilities in the enhancement of the teaching of Humanities.   

4. What students say on the conduct of classes.
             Four methods of instruction were used. These are the ratings obtained from the respondents for each method.

1.     Lecture- Demonstration             4.38  Very Good
2.     Hands-on and on-site                 4.16  Very Good
3.     Group dynamics                          3.93   Good
4.     Film viewing and critiquing        3.86  Good

     Preference to lecture-demonstration, followed by hands-on and on-site instruction is shown by the ratings, but the scores are not significantly better than those obtained in the other teaching methods. On the average the instruction methods garnered 4.08 or Good rating.   
5. What students say about the teacher. 
       Three aspects about the teacher were evaluated, namely competence or proficiency, attitude towards his students, and professionalism becoming of a true teacher and Christian.

     As an information background, the professor has been teaching humanities at SPUQ since 1994. He is a book author, a columnist in a local magazine, painter and violinist. He served as curator of the SPCQ museum.  These are the scores for the following criteria.
1.     Competence (knowledge and skill)           4.38  Very Good
2.     Attitude/ treatment to student                     4.35  Very Good
3.     Professionalism                                          4.52   Very Good      
                   6. What students say about the topics in Humanities
     Here are 10 major topics or activities in Humanities and how the students rated them.

1.     Drawing and Painting - 4.52 Very Good
     There were two drawings and one acrylic painting made by each student.
     Subjects included on-the-spot, still life and imagery painting. 

2.   Multiple intelligence - 4.31 Very Good.
The students made a self- evaluation of the eight realms of intelligence:   logic, language, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetics, music and naturalism. This exercise serves in analyzing their strong and weak faculties, and to use them in self-improvement.

3.   Exercises – 4.14 Very Good.
There are three exercises conducted, namely
A.   Make this three live again
B.   I am a sailboat
C.   My dream house

     The theme of each exercise is Building Relationships. The lesson is No  man is an island.

4.   Photography - 4.55 Very Good
The score clearly shows the interest of students in photography as an art.     Photography session was held on the campus, and the photographs were made into a photo-essay about SPUQ mounted on illustration board and exhibited at the museum at the end of the course.

5.     Drama Skit - 4.24 Very Good
In spite of the limited period of preparation the students enjoyed the drama  skit presentation held at the museum. Each group comprised of 5 to 7 members. Contemporary themes included campus scenes,  and  adventures of growing up.

6.   Poetry - 3.93 Good
Poetry writing was rated good. Two poems were made, one accompanied their paintings and the other about Paulinian values. Generally the students preferred free verse style.

7.   Reaction papers -  4.0 Good
Critiquing is an important aspect in the arts. The students were required to submit reaction papers for The Little Prince and My Fair Lady. Art criticism was also assigned to them for the murals and paintings.

8.  The Little Prince - 4.12 Very Good
This film is based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’ novelette of the same title. Two sessions were devoted in its analysis. Among the challenging questions asked was “Who is the Little Prince in your life?”

9.  My Fair Lady - 4.36 Very Good
This film is a modern version of Pygmalion involving the transformation of an adolescent into a fair lady through the guidance of a phonetic professor.  The story imparts a lesson about growing up in contemporary society.

10.  Story of my life - 4.36 Very Good
This is an autobiography. Other than writing about oneself, the student explores her world, expounds her life’s philosophy and explores her future. 
           7. What Students say about the effects/ impact of Humanities

Mural paintings by the author 
      Are there effects of the subject on the lives of the students? What are they and to what extent?   These are their perceptions:

1.  Self worth/ self esteem                        4.19  VG
2.  Attitude to studies                               4.29  VG
3.  Attitude to family                                 4.36  VG
4.  Friends and acquaintances                  4.36  VG
5.  Spiritual life                                        4.14  VG
6.  Personal values                                 4.02  G
7.  Social values                                     4.04  G
8.  Environment and nature                     3.64  G
9.   Determination/outlook in life              4.24  VG
10. Cultivation of talents/ faculties           4.14  VG

     The course has the greatest perceived impact on the improvement in attitude to family and friends with 4.36 (Very Good), followed by improvement in attitude toward studies (4.29 Very Good), and better outlook in life, greater determination to live, higher self-esteem. 

     The students gave the lowest scores (Good) to three aspects: outlook on the environment and nature, and improvement of social and personal value. This is because transformation of values is more difficult to attain than transformation of attitudes.

8. Conclusion and Recommendation 
     Humanities can be made an interesting and enjoyable subject by enhancing the following conditions. 
1.     Conducive venues - classroom, museum, Eco-Sanctuary, IMC, and the like.

2.     Effective teaching methods and techniques – lecture-demonstration, hands-on, on-site instruction and research, group dynamics, film viewing and critiquing

3.     Effective teacher -  competent,  good attitude, and profession

4.     Appropriate topics/subjects to include wider coverage of   spatial arts, literature, and performing arts. 

5.     Impact and influence on character and behavior – personal, social and spiritual values

        The following constitute some areas in improving the subject and its instruction: 
1.  Opening the library facilities. The college library was under renovation during the summer of the 2004.

2.   Extensive use of the audio-visual resources of IMC

3.   Allocation of more time in creative activities, hands-on, etc.

4.  Visitation of institutions, such as art centers and scenic spots.

5.  Getting guest resource persons.

6. Greater involvement of the Paulinian community in activities related to humanities, such as poster making contests and literary contests.   

    9. Comments of Students
1. Arts and humanities is not just a plain subject. It is life!

2.     It was a very different experience.  I never thought of enjoying summer class like this. 

3.     I find this subject fun and I really learn a lot from it.

4.     This subject has tackled a lot about life and arts - and being happy.

5.   I really enjoyed this humanities class. I loved the lectures regarding life. The hands-on activities like drawing, paintings and photography are really enjoyable.

6.     The subject is so challenging, it helped me develop my determination in life.

7.     Keep up the good work, sir. Take care always.

8.     Keep up the good work! Continue your good mission.

9.     I’ve learned so much from this subject, especially about reality.

10.  I’ve learned so much on the side of poetry.

11.  More elaboration of topics in lecturing.

12. The subject was taught well. The only problem was the discussion period. It was lengthy.

13. Give us time for preparation in same activities, specifically in a stage plays.      We cannot do it in just one day to finish everything. Thank you!

14. Thank you for teaching us how to express ourselves, and in cultivating our talents.

15. Well done Sir, you are so patient and very considerate to your students. I really love your way of teaching. Keep up the good work.

16. More time to discuss topics and more time to practice for the play.          

17. The class is very interesting but there were moments I got tired because of many activities.        

18.   It was a wonderful experience to study humanities because we had a lot of fun during the activities.          

19.   More film viewing but not classic.  
20. I had a very good experience in humanities. We did not focus in the classroom only but even outside of the classroom.  It helped me to appreciate the beauty of nature. 

Some items found in the former St Paul Museum

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