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Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design Instructor to Help Shape State Art Proficiency Standards

Kristen MorrisonKristen Morrison, adjunct faculty at Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design, has been tapped by the Michigan Department of Education to help improve student proficiency in the arts.

Morrison, a former high school teacher who also serves as Kendall’s student teacher placement officer, is among a team of arts educators chosen by the MDE for its Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project. The team is charged with developing resources and tools that support comprehensive arts education in elementary and secondary schools.

“My job takes me to school systems all over West Michigan,” Morrison said.  “I get to talk with teachers about their curriculum and see the work created by students. As we prepare the next generation to enter the workforce, we must develop in students the creative problem-solving skills they will need to succeed in any line of work – not just art and design careers. The job market is changing for Americans, and these higher-order thinking skills will be a requirement.”

Teams of art educators will create an instructional blueprint for a high-quality arts education program and an audit tool for districts to assess the quality of their arts program.

Morrison is part of a two-person team that will create assessment specifications and prototypes to guide further development of student assessments in the arts. Morrison’s team will begin its research in April and is expected to present final recommendations to the state in the fall.

The blueprint, audit tool and prototype assessments are to support educators in program implementation and to improve instructional offerings in dance, music, theater and visual arts.

“My role will be to create high-quality lesson plans and rubrics that teachers and administrators may use as models to design meaningful art programs,” said Morrison, who was selected from a panel of applicants from across the state. “We are focusing on the intellectual skills students should have in place by the time they graduate.”

Much of Morrison’s work will draw on the brain-based research Kendall uses in its Art Education program.

“Our program is on the cutting edge of applying brain research to teaching and learning in art education,” she said. “If the information we use could be applied throughout the state, the potential for greater learning is tremendous.

“Art is not created in a bubble. Visual communication is an integral part of every subject you learn in school,” she continued. “To be a part of this conversation and get the message out to the entire state is truly exciting.”

As a unique part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history, and art education; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally. For more information, visit