Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Brenda Matthis

Second Advisor

Dr. Maureen Creegan-Quinquis

Third Advisor

Dr. Lois Hetland


Public School visual arts educators play a vital role in implementing trauma-sensitive practices within schools. Through a collaborative arts-based research design the researcher worked alongside four public school visual art educators to portray their knowledge, beliefs, and values surrounding trauma while also gaining a nuanced and in depth understanding of how perceptions of trauma influence their pedagogy and praxis. Data collection methods included interviews, focus groups, participant and research observations, photo documentation, and art-based data. Participants viewed trauma as chronic adverse events that lead to maladaptive responses within students. They felt these responses had widespread impacts on the entire school community. Informed by their perceptions of trauma, participants held a variety of pedagogical mindsets that informed their praxis, including community, competency-based, inclusive, students as artists, and resilience. They applied these mindsets in dynamic and adaptive ways such as building social connections, affirming students on a holistic level, adapting practices, co-constructing knowledge alongside students and colleagues, and empowering students to act as their own agents of change. This study highlights how art educators are uniquely positioned to support traumatized students' dynamic needs and act as levers of change within trauma-sensitive schoolwide reform. However, for schools to develop long-term sustainable trauma-sensitive practices, art educators’ voices must be heard and amplified. Including art educators in trauma-sensitive project teams and leadership positions works to ensure these practices beyond the art room and into the heart of school culture.


The name, Glue Gun Stories is drawn from Kara, a participant whom I'll introduce in chapter four. Throughout the research, Kara spoke about her association with glue guns, understanding their complex duality—their ability to cause destruction but their ability to create. The glue gun became a metaphor for trauma and resiliency throughout our conversations, a metaphor I hope to shine a light on throughout this dissertation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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