Group Formation


Class members should form groups made up of two to four students who will work together to select a topic and develop a research question(s).  Your research question(s) must be approved by the instructor.  When forming your groups keep in mind that group members will all receive the same grade for the project, and everyone must do their part of the work in a timely fashion to complete the project successfully.  Part of your supporting materials will include an evaluation form of both your own participation, and that of your group members.  Time will be scheduled during class periods for group meetings, but your group will also need to meet outside of class. It will be much easier for you to stay in touch with your group if you exchange telephone numbers and email addresses with each other now!


The Project consists of four parts:


1.      Topic Statement

All groups must turn in a 1-2 page written statement of their project topic. It must include:

Topic statements will be worth 10 points and are due by the end of class on Friday, October 2nd. (This is a change from the course outline).


2.      Group Presentations

The most important part of the group project is to present what you have learned to the rest of the class. Each group will give a 15 minute presentation and every group member must participate in some way. Currently, presentations are schedule to begin on Wednesday December 2nd  and end on Friday, December 11th.  Three groups will present during each class period. The starting date is based on the number of days needed to accommodate approximately 18 groups.  If there are more or less groups the dates will be adjusted accordingly.  Presentation dates will be determined by an in-class lottery. You will have a total of five minutes to set up before your presentation, and for the class to ask questions afterwards.  If your group is not prepared on your assigned presentation date, five points will be taken off of your grade for the presentation.


Presentations will be worth 50 points to be evaluated as follows:

5 points                       Creative approach to topic

10 points                     Presentation of content

5 points                       Description of methods of investigation (may include examples of research materials)

5 points                       Use of relevant literature and course content

5 points                       Integration of content

5 points                       Organization of presentation 

5 points                       Creative approach to presentation

5 points                       Balance of involvement by group members

5 points                       Appropriate use of time       


  1. Group Research Supporting Materials -

All groups must turn in a package of supporting research materials on their topic.  These materials must include but are not limited to:


A word about source material -  

While I think that there is a lot of great information out there on the Web, there is also a lot of bad information. You must always carefully consider whether or not the source you are using is reliable and this is especially important for information obtained from the Web. You should try to use the same standard as most news reporters who get independent confirmation of the information provided by any single source.

Trade books, magazines, and other “popular” literature are usually good sources of information, since these authors often use the independent confirmation standard, and because these sources are usually checked and re-checked by professional editors and other workers in the publishing process.

Academic books and journal articles are excellent sources of reliable information because academic publishing is an artworld with rigorous conventions governing the collection and analysis of data. Furthermore, many academic publishers require a peer review; that is, a review and critique by other experts in the field.

Academic sources can be useful even if you disagree with the author’s theories. You can use their analysis and results as evidence for your own perspective! And now that so many academic sources are available on the web, you don’t even have to go to the library to use them!! So to encourage you to use at least some academic sources, you will get one point on your group report for each one that you use up to a maximum of five.


A word about Plagiarism -

This is a serious matter.  Do not try to present someone else’s work as your own!  The prescribed penalty is an F for the assignment.  When you use a source other than yourself to write a paper, you must cite that source.  Sources available on the Internet must also be cited, including the Web address of the site.  If you take an original source and modify it to turn in as your own work, you are also guilty of plagiarism.   Recently students have been caught downloading essays from the Internet, making a few changes, and then handing in the papers as their own.  They were easily detected and received failing grades.

Group supporting materials are due by the end of the day (5pm) on Monday, December 14th and five points will be deducted for late projects. The supporting materials will be worth 50 points as follows:


10 points         Research summary

10 points         PowerPoint / presentation materials

5 points           Use of relevant literature review and course content

5 points           Description of methods of investigation (may include examples of research materials), plus a critical evaluation of sources of your methods

5 points           Annotated bibliography of all published materials used

 and     5 points          For academic sources (1 point per citation up to a total of five)

5 points           Organization and integration of report

5 points           Self and group evaluation forms


  1. Test Questions

Each group will write four multiple choice or True/False test questions relating to the material covered in their presentation.  These questions will be incorporated into the final exam.  The questions are worth 10 points, and may be rewritten by the instructor for clarity or grammar.


What makes a good research question?


The most common mistake that students make in choosing a research question is that their questions are too general. For example, you might be interested in the history of Egyptian art, but this topic could fill up a whole book or even two! Your research question(s) should be specific enough that you can give a substantial explanation in a 20 – 25 minute presentation. You may decide to ask two or three very specific but related questions in order to narrow your topic down. For example, rather than discussing the art of Ancient Egypt you could discuss the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamen.

One good way to narrow down a topic that is too general is to choose just one type of art or one artist to study. For example, you might decide to study the comic book artworld and describe the people, collective activities and conventions of that artworld. Or you could study the history of women in 19th century art, or how the introduction of sound changed the film industry.  Or, you might decide to look at music CD cover art and talk about how the images on the cover supports or detracts from the material within.

Another option is two choose two types of art styles, or artists and compare them or study how they influenced each other.  For example, you could compare the similarities and differences in the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements, or you might talk about the effects and ramifications of computer generated technology and images in the film industry.

Whether you choose to analyze an art genre or artist or to compare more than one, think about the evaluation criteria we have discussed in class, and use them to help you select your topic:  Content and Context (historical, cultural, social and religious); the Elements and Principles of design; the function of the artist in each historical culture/time period; criteria for evaluation of art; comparison and contrast between one artist/genre and another; and conventions and structure within genres.



What are some possible methods of investigation?


  Primary Sources

Because you are looking at art, you are primarily going to be looking at Primary Source material.  This means you will be looking at the actual works of art or photographs of the same, rather than another individual’s interpretation of that work.


·         Literature review

All of the group projects will need some literature review, although your lit review can be shorter if you also use one of the other methods as well.

·         Social history

Use published sources (newspapers, books, etc) to reconstruct the history of a type of artwork, a genre, an organization, or an artist. Relate events or trends in the history to more general historical events or social trends.


·         Content analysis

Identify common themes or elements of meaning in a style or movement of artwork, or an individual artist’s work. Interpret the meaning of works of art in relation to their social context.


·         Interviews

Interview people who work in an artworld, have a specific interest in one form of art, or are artists.