Meaning, Value and Engagement in the Arts: Findings from a Participatory Investigation of Young Australian Children's Perceptions of the Arts

Margaret S. Barrett, Michele C. Everett, Heather M. Smigiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports findings from a 2-year Australian study that explored children's perceptions of the meaning and value of the arts, and accounts of their engagement in arts activities in school and youth arts settings. The research also aimed to develop data generation methods sensitive to the ways children communicate and make meaning. The 570 children who participated in the project ranged in age between 5 and 18 years. Different approaches to access children's perspectives were used with different age groups. This paper focuses on the youngest children in the study (ages 5-8) working in school settings, and the data generated with them through small group interviews and drawing elicitation techniques. Through the findings young children's accounts of their engagement in the arts in everyday life are heard. The paper also provides opportunity to explore the methodological challenges of undertaking research with young children that seeks to engage them as active participants in the investigative process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-201
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 'Draw and Tell' methods
  • Aesthetic thinking
  • Arts education
  • Participatory research
  • Visual methods

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