Topic 2 Cooperative art-based techniques for increasing group cohesion and preventing exclusion

  • Arts-based learning focuses on the appropriate use of arts skills and experiences as educational tools aimed at fostering learning in non-arts disciplines and non-arts fields.
  • The art-based activities of intergenerational programs can take many forms, including visual arts, theater, dance, crafts, literature and music.
  • Collaborative art-based teaching methods (collage, clay, drawing, dancing and body movement etc.) are suitable for teaching tolerance, diversity and empathy in diverse and intergenerational groups.
  • Art helps learners express their emotions. By using learning-by-doing methods focused on non-verbal interactions rather than talking, reading or writing, teachers can encourage participation of disadvantaged learners and increase group cohesion.

“We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”

– John Dewey –

Two approaches that may prove useful for art-based activities may be design thinking process and visual thinking strategies.


Originating as a business strategy to increase Problem Solving skills, it can be a useful technique to design together with participants the best path to develop intergenerational learning activities. It can also be very helpful in promoting creative thinking, divergent thinking and teamwork. The model proposed by Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design involves five stages: 1-Empathize: research your users’ needs; 2-Define: state your users’ needs and problems; 3-Ideate: challenge assumptions and create ideas; 4-Prototype: start to create solutions; 5-Test: try your solutions out.


Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a learning method developed in the United States since the 1980s.

This system consists of a group discussion led by a facilitator about a work of art. A process that is activated by three basic questions: “What is happening in this image?; What are the visual elements that can prove it?; What else can we see?”.

From this reasoning, a form of learning can, therefore, be triggered that is useful for the development of certain specific skills such as critical thinking (resulting in the overcoming of prejudices) and the ability to work in teams.


This is a simple activity in which participants sketch scenes of activities involving some sort of interaction between people of different age groups. Participants will think “intergenerationally” and reveal their experience and imagination on paper.

  1. Provide participants with drawing supplies.
  2. Ask participants to think about activities they do, or might like to do, with people in other age groups. If needed, prompt them to think about various arts and crafts, dancing, cooking, computing, gardening, and other activities.
  3. Have participants draw scenes of activities in which there is intergenerational exchange.
  4. Have participants discuss their drawings with each other, activate a debate among participants through stimulus questions about the meanings of the different drawings produced.