Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a collaborative teaching method that has been used in various classroom settings to improve creative critical thinking skills, often involving the usage of fine art. VTS is different from typical teaching methods that often teach to find the single best answer. VTS's structured, open-ended discussions emphasize that there may be multiple correct perspectives to support an argument. VTS exercises were implemented in an honors undergraduate course at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Dr. Brad Hokanson, the instructor of the course, applied weekly VTS exercises by projecting an image and allowing students to collaboratively work out what is happening within the image through the techniques of VTS. Thus, we studied the effectiveness of VTS after eight weeks by measuring the students' growth in their critical thinking skills. Abigail Housen, one of the creators of VTS, created the Five Stages of Aesthetic Viewing, which is used to evaluate the participants in her studies based on their level of critical thinking. We used the Stages of Aesthetic Viewing in our study to aid in calculating the students' visual critical thinking scores, which were measured in the first and ninth weeks of the semester. The visual critical thinking scores are derived from the students' quantity and quality of observation responses of the given artwork.
Yun Ha Seo, Meghan Hendrickson, Brad Hokanson, University of Minnesota