29 SES 05, Arts-based Research
This paper discusses action research, led collaboratively by a primary teacher and academic researcher as an instance of academically supported practitioner enquiry. The research focuses on the integration of SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environments) and arts-based pedagogies in order to support children’s cognition, metacognition and ‘voice’. Potential for transforming learning via art lies in its symbolic and interpretable nature and (particularly in contemporary art) the typical lack of imposed narrative, permitting the referencing of personal life-worlds which we apply in using works of art as ‘keys to understanding’ (Efland 2002). Dealing with metaphor, art necessitates ‘cognitive breakthroughs’, going ‘beyond the given and compelling our own thinking to go beyond the given.’ (Lipman, 2003). Considering this, does individual learning benefit from manipulating and creating art metaphors to describe learning and result in developing related knowledge and skill? This would constitute metacognition (Flavell 1979), or ‘reflective and strategic thinking about learning’ (Mosely et al. 2005). Metacognition is most likely to develop through the articulation of thinking in a community of enquiry (Wall 2012). Experienced in a gallery, art can provide a context for a community of enquiry, elsewhere, it can provide a focus and a tool which is also likely to stimulate thought and discussion. Ideas can be shared visually, overcoming barriers imposed by prose and supporting the ‘voice’ (Rudduck 2006) of young children. Using art to generate discussion should increase metacognition and support the transition towards self-directed learning. Is such ‘art as experience’ (Dewey 1934) when integrated with technology-enhanced pedagogy which is designed to support the emergence of self-organised learning, more potent in supporting the development of metacognition and voice? What might this pedaogy look like?
SOLE pedagogy nurtures a ‘self-organising system [which] is a set of interconnected parts, each unpredictable, producing spontaneous order in an apparently chaotic situation…The SOLE environment encourages the “edge of chaos” effect, since it is neither strictly ordered not totally chaotic’ (Mitra, 2014). This learning context and the processes it engenders seems akin to the interpretive and subjective cognitive processes inherent in visual arts experiences. This paper focuses on the relational dynamics present in an ‘Art and SOLE’ pedagogy, including the collaboration between the professional and academic researchers involved, and discusses whether and how such an approach is beneficial in its intended aim; to support learners and researchers to ‘think for themselves’ about their learning.
The context is Broadwood Primary School in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. The subjects are 23 Year 2 children (aged 6-7), comprising a diverse range of individuals in terms of ability, culture and socio-economic status. Their teacher instigated the relationship with the academic researcher due to concerns that many children were ill equipped to succeed with attainment targets given their inability to enquire or self-direct, which she thought was largely due to over-emphasis on literacy and numeracy in the education system . The research objective was:toexplore whether and how developing Art and SOLE pedagogy might support children to become self-organising, metacognitive learners with ‘voice’.
The children are taking part in Art and SOLE sessions for an hour each Friday afternoon, between November 2015 and July 2016. The researchers take a cyclical approach involving planning, action and reflection in order to develop effective pedagogy. The research method mirrors ‘self-organised’ learning, providing a loose structure through which findings ‘emerge’. Expectations are that children will develop their ability to think flexibly, be more confident in enquiring, taking risk, answering questions and when introduced to metacognition as a focus within the pedagogy, develop an understanding of how they learn and strategies for learning. This process would be valuable in generating creativity across European settings.
Baumfield, V., Hall, E., Wall, K., (2013) Action Research in Education, Sage Baumfiled, V., Hall, K., Higgins, S., Wall, K., (2009) Catalytic tools: understanding the interaction of enquiry and feedback in teachers’ learning. European Journal of Teacher Education, 32:4 Dewey, J. (1934) Art as Experience. Perigee Efland, A., (2002) Art in Education. Teachers college Press Flavell, J.H. (1979) Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: a new area of cognitive developmental inquiry. Cognitive Development. 34: 906-911 Lipman, M. (2003) Thinking in Education. Cambridge University Press Mitra, S. (2014) The future of schooling: Children and learning at the edge of chaos. Prospects. 44:547-558 Mosely, D., Baumfield, V., Elliott, J., Higgins, S., Miller, J., and Newton, D.P. (2005) Frameworks for Thinking: a handbook for teaching and learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Rudduck, J. (2006) The past, the papers and the project. Educational Review. 58:2, 131-143 Stenhouse, L. (1981) What counts as research? British Journal of Educational Studies, 29(2): 103-14 Wall, K. (2012) “It wasn’t too easy, which is good if you want to learn”: An exploration of pupil participation and Learning to Learn. The Curriculum Journal, 23:3, 283-305 Wall, K., and Higgins, S., (2006) Facilitating Metacognitive Talk: a research and learning tool. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 29(1), 39-53
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