The Missouri Arts Council has awarded $3,500 to the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art on the State Fair Community College Sedalia campus.

The funds will be used to offer professional development to Missouri educators, including elementary and secondary teachers in SFCC’s 14-county service region and SFCC’s faculty.

The professional development will train teachers how to implement Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) into their curriculum to improve student learning. VTS is a learner-centered teaching method that uses facilitated art discussions to build 21st-century skills such as close observation, critical and creative thinking, purposeful listening, effective communication, and respectful debate.

The strategies are based on 30 years of research by cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen in collaboration with museum educator Philip Yenawin. The pedagogy has been adopted by schools and museums to actively engage participants from Pre-K through college. VTS engages students and adult learners with artwork in the museum or classroom by asking open-ended questions that link visual perceptions of art to thinking processes.

The grant-funded professional development will be used to support the museum’s long-running Daum Escape program, ongoing VTS experiences for SFCC’s faculty and students and a new partnership with Cole Camp School District. Since 2004, the museum has offered the Daum Escape, a museum experience that exposes students to contemporary art and provides their teachers with information to assist them with incorporating arts education into their curricula. SFCC Health Sciences faculty have used VTS with Daum exhibits to develop higher awareness and observation skills in their students.

The partnership with Cole Camp elementary art instructor Ward Behle and secondary art teacher Dustin Mothersbaugh will involve VTS methodology in every art class throughout the academic year by engaging in monthly discussions generated by the VTS curriculum. Students will be given pre-and post-test assessments, and the art teachers will choose one control classroom from their student body. Students will be asked to do artwork, journal, and participate in discussions that are a direct response to the question “How has VTS impacted your artwork this year?” Elementary students will be assessed via digital recording during one-on-one discussions.

Vicki Weaver is the Daum’s education curator and has been using VTS to train elementary and secondary teachers and work with SFCC instructors and college students since 2004. For more information, contact Weaver at (660) 596-7331 or or visit

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