29 SES 08, Approaching Arts Education Research
This paper will provide a theoretical exploration of imagination and metacognition, using philosophical, historical and psychological perspectives to arrive at a model of this relationship, exemplified through research data. It contributes an original model and a little-visited perspective of metacognition and imagination. Sadoski (2002) suggests that metacognition is a form of imagination, relying on a ‘generalised other’ in which the individual internalises a ‘general systematic pattern of social or group behaviour’ (Mead, 1934) and applies these inwardly. For Kant (1790), imagination connects and synthesises sense perceptions with existing knowledge and is the ‘hidden condition of all knowledge’ (Kearney, 1988). How far do these theories account for metacognition and what other role does imagination play?
By defining and categorising ‘imagination’ and ‘metacognition’, we will explore their integration. Arriving at a model which demonstrates relationships between metacognitive knowledge and skill with ‘productive’, ‘creative’ and ‘fantastical’ imagination, we will highlight real-life instances. Researching three projects dependent on creative process, we have seen that imagination and metacognition are related and are prominent in the learning. Creativity can be described as ‘imaginative processes with outcomes that are original and of value’ (Robinson, 2001). In learning, ‘imagination’ is often referenced but seldom expanded. We propose that it is an aspect of thinking, underpinning metacognition and that arts experiences are well-placed to support imagination and therefore metacognition, simultaneously. We have argued that the development of metacognition has been related to the development of ‘voice’ (Wall, Burns & Llewellyn, 2015). As such, it is likely to support social inclusion via developed, individual capacity for democratic inclusion in which people have ‘…a responsible share according to capacity in forming and directing the groups to which [they] belong.’ (Dewey, 1927, p.147).
‘Mind the Gap’, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation, used the vehicle of stop-motion animation in ‘Learning to Learn’ (Wall et al. 2010) parental-engagement in school. In a second project, ‘Mapping Transformation’, funded by the British Academy, children made art as a metaphor for their learning, in a gallery. ‘Art and SOLE’ (Self Organised Learning Environment) pedagogy, focussed on personal learning has been developed as a result of these research experiences. This paper draws on findings from case studies produced in the evaluation of these projects. Case studies for Mind the Gap are drawn from a systematic mixed-method randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation including video observation, interviews, questionnaires and online assessment. Research took place across 60 primary schools, producing a sample of over 1600 8 and 9 year old children. We will focus on approximately 200 of these children across 7 schools. Case studies for Mapping Transformation were conducted at individual level, with 10, 8 and 9 year old children, to gain in-depth understanding of their learning. This was Participatory Action Research with cases constructed using journals, visual data and interviews. Individual case studies for Art and SOLE took place with a sub-set of 7 children in a Year 1 class and this research continues.
Conclusions will include implications for pedagogy arising from the status and relationship of imagination in metacognition and the potential of arts-based learning experiences in nurturing this. We anticipate that this unusual model may lead to fresh exploration of arts-based education approaches in support of metacognition, which could, in turn, increase the status and inclusive potential of arts-education. We hypothesise that if imagination is fundamental to metacognition and if visual art has a special role in developing imagination, then arts-education could be used more prolifically and with a focus on metacognition, in order to develop learner autonomy. Through this process art could have further potential to increase social inclusivity.
Dewey, J. (1927) The Public and its Problems), Swallow Press. Kant, I. (1790) Critique of Judgement. Kearney, R. (1988) The Wake of Imagination, Routledge. Mead, G.H. (1934) Mind Self and Society. University of Chicago Press. Robinson, K. (2001) Out of Our Minds: learning to be creative. Capstone. Sadoski, M. (1992) Imagination, Cognition and Persona, Rhetoric Review, 10(2), pp.266-278. Wall, K., Burns, H. and Llewellyn, A. (2015) Mind the Gap: an exploratory investigation of a family learning initiative to develop metacognitive awareness Journal of Early Childhood Research, 15(2), pp.115-129. Wall, K., Burns, H., Llewellyn, A., (Wall, K., Hall, E., Higgins, S., Rafferty, V., Remedios, R., Thomas, U., Tiplady, L., Towler, C. and Woolner, P. (2010) Learning to Learn in Schools Phase 4 and Learning to Learn in Further Education. Newcastle University and Durham University.
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