Mapping the Future through Abstract Paintings

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  • Title: Mapping the Future through Abstract Paintings
  • Author(s): Jari Martikainen
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Arts Education
  • Keywords: Arts-based Research Method, Arts-based Teaching Method, Abstract Art, Graduation, Future Plans
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9944 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-0306 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Martikainen, Jari. 2019. "Mapping the Future through Abstract Paintings." The International Journal of Arts Education 14 (3): 15-35. doi:10.18848/2326-9944/CGP/v14i03/15-35.
  • Extent: 21 pages


Students graduating from upper secondary vocational education and training may often find it difficult to make decisions related to their future both in terms of further education and occupation. This study examines the potential of arts-based teaching methods to motivate and support students to reflect on and map their plans for the future. A group of twenty-seven students in upper secondary vocational education in Finland participated in the course Mapping My Future, where diverse teaching methods were used to support and motivate students to reflect on the future and plan for it. This study focuses on one assignment where students were invited to reflect on their future with the help of abstract paintings. Written reflections form the data of the research and were analyzed using content analysis. The findings of the study show that the assignment helped students become aware of their thoughts and feelings about the future and motivated them to plan for their future.