Exploration of selected water colour techniques to motivate students in painting. An action Research at Form IV level.
Learning is an ongoing process that occurs every minute in the field of education.
Learning means to gain knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something. As teacher, our goal is to encourage learning in the classroom.
The purpose of this study is to carry out an action research through selected watercolour techniques to improve pupil’s performance.
A student comes in class with a certain degree of motivation. But, teacher’s behavior and the way of his teaching, the structure of the course, and interactions with the students all have a broad effect on the student motivation. There are three things to remember about education as per Maher and Meyer’s concept (1997, p 377), “the first is motivation, the second is motivation and the third is motivation.”
Teaching effectively involves not only the use of tools, techniques, and strategies to optimize student learning but an understanding of context, in particular how your students learn, how they process information, what motivates them to learn more, and what impedes the learning process.
It’s not easy keeping children interested and motivated in classroom instruction. However, several tips and selected techniques can help teachers actively engage students and encourage them to learn and interact positively with others.
In the course of my teaching of Art and Design at form four level in my college, I have noticed that there are some topics where students meet difficulties. The subject has been introduced since more than 35 years at Hamilton College Girls department, at Mahebourg, students have adopted the teacher centred approach and depend entirely on what the teacher gave them as instructions. Since, the majority of the students come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and they are mostly low achievers, they should be boost up in creating their own learning environment whereby they know what and how they are doing it. At form four levels, students will be having enough time to adapt to the new teaching and learning techniques which will be implemented. Enough time will be given to them for active learning during their practical classes..
Purpose and justification of the study
I have been working as a practicing teacher for almost 15 years in a private secondary school, located in a coastal area. I have been teaching art and design both in lower and upper classes. When I started working with Form IV students this year I noticed that pupils at this level perform very poorly while using water colour technique in their painting. They had great difficulties in handling this media. They lack confidence and hence they fear to spoil their drawing and painting. When these pupils undergo the examinations, they come with poor results. These are some of the reason for me to use some selected watercolour techniques to boost up their level, thus ensuring better examination results.
Students Profile
Usually students who pass the CPE (Standard VI) with C, D, and E are admitted in the school. Very rarely a student is seen to have been admitted with B’s and least often with A’s. Apart from their low intellectual baggage, pupils from this school come from coastal regions like Grand Port, Bois des Amourettes, Grand Sable and other neighboring villages. Their social background is quite poor as there are many girls who have only one parent or who live with grandmothers or aunts- the result of broken homes due to alcoholic parents. The pupils do not have art materials most of the time. The absenteeism rate is quite high.
Low ability pupils
Low ability pupils are those pupils whose pace of learning is very slow and they exist in all schools. They should be provided more time than the average and high achievers so that it will be easy for them to grasp the basic of the learning activities. These students need special help over a lengthy period from the teachers. Some causes of low achievers are poverty, broken family, emotional or personal factors.
Aims of the study

  • To apply selected water colour techniques in the class in order to promote learning among students in practical classes.

This research has objectives as:

  • To create an interest in painting using watercolour among the pupils and encourage participation in class.
  • To make students aware of different water colour techniques in painting.
  • To promote self-learning.
  • Implement the selected strategies in the class. Analyse and reflect critically whether the use of the strategies have been effective.
  • Improve pupil’s performance
  • Effectively use elements and principles of design while painting with water based paint.

Problem statement
Aproblem statementis a concise description of the issues that need to be addressed by a problem solving team and should be presented to them (or created by them) before they try to solve the problem. The primary purpose of aproblem statementis to focus the attention of the problem solving team.
As I have mentioned above that pupils at Form IV level perform very poorly while using water colour technique in their painting. They had great difficulties in handling this media and they lack confidence and hence they fear to spoil their drawing and painting. So certain questions should be put forward to remedy the situation in art and design classes.
Research Questions:

  1. What are pupils’ overall perception in painting with watercolour?
  2. Why do pupils perform poorly while using watercolour techniques?
  3. Can selected watercolour techniques boost up pupil’s performance while painting?

This chapter highlights the theoretical and empirical literature of this study on the exploration of selected water colour techniques and motivation of students.
Many college teachers today want to move from passive learning to active learning, to find better ways of engaging students in the learning process.
I have gone through the book “WATERCOLOUR” by the author Milind Mulick where it is mentioned that watercolour as an independent genre was brought in vogue by Joseph Turner and John Constable, two British painters of the 18th century. John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, William Russell Flint took the art of watercolours to new heights. In this book Milind has mentioned the important features of water colour, techniques and about the materials to be used, such as paper brushes and paints. He has also written about the practice, composition and sketching which is the beginning of drawing. The demonstration part of the book will greatly help students understand the application of water colour throughout the painting of landscape.
Exploring Watercoloris to discover new ways to get expressive with colour…ideas for using nature’s patterns to inspire enticing designs…how to expand your repertoire and unleash your creativity by experimenting with freeform collages, found imagery, and other innovative techniques. Wherever you are as an artist, this hands-on guide (Exploring watercolour Techniques by Elizabeth Grove)will help you master the watercolor medium and develop your individual style, and move beyond a literal rendering of your subject matter.
Motivationis apsychologicalfeature that arouses an organism to act towards a desiredgoaland elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal-directed behaviors.
Motivation involves a constellation of beliefs, perceptions, values, interests, and actions that are all closely related. Motivation is an important factor in learning.
Type of motivations
Intrinsic motivation means that the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from within. Intrinsic motivation is motivation that is animated by personal enjoyment, interest, or pleasure.
Extrinsic motivation means that the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from outside. In other words, our desires to perform a task are controlled by an outside source. Motivation refers to “the reasons underlying behaviour” (Guay et al., 2010, p. 712).
“Motivation in school learning involves arousing, sustaining and desirable conduct” (Woolfolk, 1988).
It depends upon how well a teacher can arouse the interests and motives of student.
“The ultimate goal of schools is to transform its students by providing knowledge and skills and by building character and instilling virtue” (Sergiovanni, 1991).
Motivation has been defined as the level of effort an individual is willing to expend toward the achievement of a certain goal.
Biehler and Snowman (1993) state that “motivation is typically defined as the forces that account for the arousal, selection, direction, and continuation of behavior”.
responsibility is to create the conditions that will enhance students’ motivation to pursue academic goals actively over a long period of time.
“If you have a hammer, you tend to see any problem as a nail,” meaning, the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better prepared you are to face any challenge that awaits you.”
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”
“In you lies something, a passion that makes you truly happy. Find it and don’t let go.”
( Abhaham Maslow)
Paint is an ideal medium for developing the child’s sensitivity to colour, because it is fluid and its effects are immediate. It is important to explore the expressive and descriptive effects of a variety of colour media and to encourage adventurous use. Colour awareness promotes sensitivity to and enjoyment of colour in the child’s surroundings and is further enhanced when the child has opportunities to look at the work of artists.
Watercolor paint is made by mixing pigments with a binder, usually gum Arabic, and then applying it with water to a support such as vellum (fine animal skin) or paper. It also contain glycerin, ox gall and preservative for the durability of the pigment. The water evaporates and the binder fixes the pigment to the support. Watercolor was used long before
Prehistoric humans in the Paleolithic ages painted the walls of their caves with mixtures of ochre, charcoal, and other natural pigments. Watercolors were also painted on papyrus and used in Egyptian art forms. In Asia, traditional Chinese painting with watercolors developed around 4,000 B.C., primarily as a decorative medium, and by the 1st century A.D., the art of painting religious murals had taken hold. By the 4th century landscape watercolor painting in Asia had established itself as an independent art form. While early European artists prepared their own watercolor mixtures for fresco wall painting, this was soon applied to paper.
Some of the 20th-century artists who produced important works in watercolor are Wassily Kandinsky,Emil Nolde,Paul Klee,Egon Schiele andRaoul Dufy. Watercolor painting emerged in Europe during the Renaissance period with advancements in papermaking.
Modern watercolor paints are now as durable and colorful as oil or acrylic paints, and the interest in drawing and multimedia art has also encouraged demand for fine works in watercolor.
Watercolor has been around since painting began, but didn’t really take off until the Renaissance. The German printmaker Albrecht Durer was an early practitioner, and found the medium ideal for small, detailed studies.
Many beautiful landscapes, portraits, and other scenes have derived from watercolor paintings. Some of the famous authors of these paintings are Marina Abramoviac, Yaacov Agam, Constantin Alajalov, Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte, and Alfred Maurer. These painters are known for having created some of the most remarkable works of watercolor art..
Clapp’s opinion about water colour,”I would suggest a student just work with one colour, monochromatically, for a while. This will allow seeing more clearly the effects of different brushes and amount of water you are using.”
“If I were to teach a water colour class, there are really only a couple of things I would do that are different from how I would teach any painting in any media. Both of these ideas address the heart of the problem people face when trying to paint in water colour.’
“Since the amount of water in the brush controls your values, edges, and the kind of marks you can make, you cannot paint well in the medium, until you understand how to control the amount of water in your brush.”
It is proposed that strategies promoting active learning be defined as instructional activities involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing. The selected ones are:

  1. Demonstration
  2. Pair and share
  3. Guided lecture
  4. Class Discussion
  5. Peer teaching

I will choose three technique from the following:
Wet on wet
Wet on dry
Salt texture
The study necessitate an action research.
Action research in classrooms involves the teacher directly. Peer teachers, the Rector, teachers, students and classroom researchers are part of the process. An action research is a process in which participants examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully used techniques of research and it is based on the following assumptions:
It involves:

  • a specific problem within a particular classroom
  • Planned action
  • elements of the formal research
  • improvement of classroom practice.
  • Contributes to the self evaluation process

I am going to do an action research for the actual problem(difficulty in using watercolour techniques) of the Form IV students. I will look for some new methods to motivate students and to enhance their performance.

  • Sample

The study will be targeted at students of form four studying Art and design at Hamilton College Girls Department. A class sample of 10 students will be taken from two different classes. For group work the students will be selected randomly as the class is considered to be a mixed ability one but the number of low achievers is quite high.

  • Interview and observation

Interviews will be carried out with the students during the class or after and the feedback of students will be noted.
Students will be observed by the teacher during their practical classes and their approaches towards the lesson on a particular topic will be noted.

  • Use of assessment both summative, formative and diagnosis and the use of mark sheets.

(ii) Method to be used during class
1. Observation
2. Checklists
3. Formulated questions
Cycle 1
Direct teaching – teacher centered – chalk and talk
Cycle 2
– 2 Lesson plans
– use of selected watercolour techniques
– Expectation of results above 60%
– Comparison between cycle 1 and cycle 2
Cycle 3
More lessons on watercolour techniques.
(iii)Analysis and Interpretation of data
Data will be represented as:
1. Bar chart
2. Pie chart
I will investigate through the research and come to a conclusion and I hope that this study will be useful to teachers in better creating the conditions that will foster students participation.

  1. Barry K & King L, (1998), Beginning Teaching and Beyond, 3rd Edition.

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