Aesthetic learning and arts curricula are a key component in the development of young minds. The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and its faculty, students, and alumni are making an impact across the nation in the world of arts education.

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D

P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D and MCE faculty member, leads teachers in incorporating the arts in their daily lives and work. Dr. Uhrmacher is a proponent for aesthetic learning experiences and advocates that all educators can enhance their teaching by bringing creativity in to the classroom. Dr. Uhrmacher has been working with Think 360 Arts since 1993 to promote the creative arts in Colorado.

MCE and Think 360 Arts recently co-sponsored a training program where teachers engaged in art-making projects designed to teach them creative problem solving and inspire them to use similar practices in the classroom. In a Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting (RMPBS) feature documenting the event, Program Director Caitlin Lindquist states that the organization brings in “artists that are really adept at working with a wide variety of student populations and skilled in developing curriculum.” The artists inspire teachers to bring art to life in their teaching and classrooms.

MCE Alumni Make an Impact in Art Education

MCE alumni are also making an impact in education as they utilize skills learned at MCE to implement the arts and aesthetics in their own work.

Curriculum and Instruction (CI) alumna Michelle Mandico is a practicing artist who incorporates her love of art into her teaching. Her art includes influences from her work in early childhood education, higher education, and residential education.

David Kennedy is a CI alumnus who taught middle and high school prior to enrolling at MCE. He recently developed a series of videos as a student addressing the use of arts—in particular, music—as a way for minority students to engage with curricula

MCE Faculty, students, and alumni create and participate in projects that support creativity in effective learning. Our programs aim to empower graduates to make a lasting impact in their communities.

RMPBS Feature on Think 360 Art

CRISPA is a six-dimensional Perceptual Teaching and Learning model that provides approaches to enrich learning beyond outcome-based standards. P. Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD, faculty of the Research Methods and Statistics, Curriculum and Instruction, and Teacher Education Programs, was inspired to create CRISPA based on interactions between artists and educators as well as the views of philosopher John Dewey; in particular, his view that aesthetic experiences can exist outside of the arts.

The six dimensions – Connections, Risk-Taking, Imagination, Sensory experiences, Perceptivity, and Active engagement – support research-based strategies that serve as a common ground for educators, enable teachers to enrich lessons, and allow students to explore their creativity. CRISPA is growing in popularity and is used by many educators nationwide – including many of Dr. Uhrmacher’s former students – to create better experiences for students and teachers alike.

MCE alumna Kristina Mahoney works at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) where she used CRISPA to co-develop and implement a tour program for young children this past year. Mahoney worked with DAM while completing her dissertation regarding the role of CRISPA’s elements in art museum education and recognized how the model can be applied in practice. The tour program was created to help children make connections to artists by using their imaginations to relate to the artmaking process. The tour program launched in 2015, providing children with opportunities to have hands-on experiences as well as to engage with art and artmaking materials.

Bradley Conrad, a former student of Dr. Uhrmacher’s and current Assistant Professor of Education at Capital University in Columbus, OH, frequently uses CRISPA in his teaching and has written about and presented on the model. He conducted a one-day lesson planning workshop utilizing CRISPA in Denver with K-12 teachers as part of a study recently published on curriculum disruption. The teachers’ perceptions changed noticeably after the workshop – those who had not considered themselves to be creative realized that CRISPA gave them the tools to design creative lessons and provide meaningful experiences for their students. One participant said that it was “important for us to be creative as educators. We are teaching the future doctors, the future scientists, people who are going to create the world that we live in”.

It was recently announced that Teaching and Learning Sciences Clinical Professor Dr. Paul Michalec will be the recipient of the University of Denver’s (DU) 2015 Distinguished Teacher Award. This prestigious award is given to one exemplary faculty member a year and recognizes excellence in teaching. Nominations should emphasize the degree to which a nominee’s teaching has constructively influenced his/her students. The award will be presented to Dr. Michalec at DU’s Fall Convocation.

Dr. Michalec received his Ph.D. (Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations of Education) from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is the former director of student teaching at Skidmore College and Director of Teacher Education at the Morgridge College of Education, serves on editorial boards for the newsletter EnCouragement and the journal Democracy and Education, leads professional development for religious communities, and is a founding member of Colorado Courage and Renewal. His research interests include teacher education, effective instruction in higher education, spiritual dimensions of teaching, and teacher renewal/formation.  Dr. Michalec enjoys biking, baking, drawing, nature study, and reading in the areas of theology, poetry, philosophy, identity, and educational-spiritual reform.

Dr. MichaleC’s Teaching Philosophy

I believe that the purpose of education is to transform the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual life of the learner.  I believe, consistent with the root meaning of education, that transformation is the process of drawing out the inner wisdom of the learner.  My responsibility as an educator is to create an engaged and rigorous learning environment where learners are invited into deep relationship with the content we are studying as well as each other as members of a classroom community. Academic success is premised more on change and transformation of the learner rather than the capacity to present back to me specific forms of information.”

Dr. Norma Hafenstein was recently elected to the National Board of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted). She was appointed the position at this year’s Conference, Growing Gifted Globally, in Florida, and will serve three years on the National Board. As a member of the National Board, Dr. Hafenstein will help carry out SENG’s mission of “[empowering] families and communities to guide gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually”. Denver was selected to be the location for the 2015 SENG Annual Conference, giving the University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education, and the Institute for the Development of Gifted Education an opportunity to showcase their work in Gifted Education at a national level.


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