International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 7 Number 7

October 18, 2006

Multimedia Arts Learning in an Activity System:
New Literacies for At-Risk Children

J. David Betts
University of Arizona

Citation: Betts, J. D. (2006). Multimedia arts learning in an activity system: New literacies for at-risk children. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 7(7). Retrieved [data] from

This study concerns a multi-year after school arts technology program, the Multimedia Arts Education Program (MAEP). The Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) sponsored MAEP in downtown Tucson for low-income youth. A five-semester curriculum was developed to introduce multimedia literacies in the electronic arts workplace and provide tools for students to become creators as well as consumers of new literacies. In this six-year study, formative data on an early cohort of participants was collected over an eighteen-month period using participant observation in the labs and interviews with students and their parents or guardians. A pre- and posttest questionnaire measured changes in perceived self-efficacy and attitudes about art, technology and learning. This study also looked at long-term effects of participation in MAEP. Program graduates were contacted four years later and asked about their high school success (defined as graduation) and career directions. The study findings are reviewed and analyzed using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) for retrospective analysis. The paper includes a description of the MAEP activity system and the interrelationships within the system. Survey instruments and a sample lesson outline are included in the appendix. The program was successful for many of the participants who completed the five semesters and earned a computer to go with the new skills to use it.

This article is available in PDF format.

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