Fourth-Grade Students' Subjective Interactions with the Seven Elements of Art: An Exploratory Case Study Using Q-Methodology

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Year of Completion


First Advisor

Jan Hammond


The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine if any relationship exists between a cross-section of 48 fourth-grade elementary-school students in one suburban intermediate school, thirty miles from a large northeast metropolitan city, and their artistic judgments regarding the seven elements of art; color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. Each of these elements of art affects our senses and might offer a better understanding of an individual. This study employed a mixed methods interdisciplinary approach, to identify viewpoints that were shared among children, and the works of art. Four Q-models emerged from the data, and were identified as: (1) Colorful and Eye-catching; (2) Perplexity and Animals; (3) Multiple Components; and (4) Nature.

Q-methodology, a form of factor analysis, was utilized for its suitability in facilitating children's participation in research. The use of Q-methodology allowed participants to be competent contributors regarding their behavior without speaking. These findings lead to a better understanding of students' likes; which can increase awareness and engagement; strengthen motivation; and lead to better performance in school.

Participant characteristics included: gender, ethnicity (Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White students), socioeconomic status (SES), academic and artistic ability. Findings showed that each of these characteristics were salient factors. The results of this study support the visual arts in schools; can contribute to curriculum development; teacher education; policymaking; text book visuals; and to the field of neuroaesthetics. Keywords: behavior, fourth-grade students, seven elements of art, Q-methodology