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Embracing Diversity

Diversity is a significant dimension of the art classroom. As a teacher, you must embrace students’ varying experiences, concerns, interests, learning styles, forms of communication, and visual expressions.

When you’re developing curriculum to include all students, consider everything you have to do to achieve equity in diversity. Equity is especially challenging when underprepared students take AP courses that have college-level parameters. You need to be sensitive in your teaching approach to be certain all students have the chance to meet AP course requirements.

All art teachers should look for the potential within each student and support each student's individuality as they create their AP portfolio. The AP Studio Art Program’s intention is to let students explore and evolve through art-making.

Developing an Inventive Approach

You don’t need expensive materials or elaborate facilities to reach your goals. You can transform adversity into advantage by focusing on each student’s strengths. Because the AP Program doesn’t prescribe a particular subject, style, material, or technique for art-making, you can take an inventive and imaginative approach to foster student achievement.

Make sure your students understand the requirements and expectations of the portfolio exam and scoring process. Review and discuss examples of student work from commendable portfolios on AP Central®. Understanding the scope of the work and commitment needed to accomplish it is the first step in getting to the goal. When there’s a clear pathway for students to follow, including a working knowledge of the scoring guidelines used to evaluate their portfolios, students are better prepared to do well.

Introduce students to non-Western and postmodern paradigms of art-making. Teach them about art from diverse social, cultural, and aesthetic perspectives. Show students how to create and use materials in an innovative manner. Open their eyes to possibilities that may be overlooked by less-inventive people.

You can empower students with learning challenges by finding materials and processes that offer access and reward. For example, a student who can’t maintain an artistic focus for long periods may do better working at a faster pace with digital media, watercolor, charcoal, oil pastels, or markers. In such a situation, encourage the student to work on images that are more experiential and personal instead of concentrating on time-intensive, realistically rendered forms. Alternatively, motivate a student to develop and hone a specific skill or technique through repeated sessions of brief practice.


The quality and quantity of each student's learning is what matters most—not the quality and quantity of art supplies and tools. The imaginative quality of your teaching, as well as the dedication to your students guarantees success in AP Studio Art.

Authored by

  • Steve Willis
    Missouri State University
    Springfield, Missouri