22 SES 03 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Parallel Paper Session
Research on disciplinary cultures has emphasized how fundamentally teaching and learning are intertwined with the epistemic cultures and social practices of a particular discipline. This means that the teaching and studying practices vary from one discipline to another: the nature and processes of teaching and learning, student supervision and assessment as well as collaboration between teachers are approached differently and from different premises.
However, the academic development support and courses offered in university pedagogy are mostly provided centrally and accordingly generic courses predominate (Manathunga 2006). Even though there are some differences in the course programmes, they are still built on fairly similar principles. In their studies, university teachers familiarize themselves with the basic concepts and theories of pedagogy and apply them to their own teaching practices. As noted by Päivi Naskali (2007), this inevitably leads to the harmonization of teaching practices. These kinds of pedagogical premises are particularly problematic at arts universities if contrasted with the values often associated with art, such as uniqueness, individuality and differentiation.
This research project explores alternative opportunities in university pedagogy and academic development. It takes a closer look at disciplinary differences from the perspective of Finnish art universities. The concept of difference is approached through the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze (1994) and Michel Foucault 2002) and understood as a process of differenciation rather than categorical difference. As Williams (2003, 60; see also Davies 2009) points out for Deleuze “real difference is a matter of how things become different, how they evolve and continue to evolve beyond the boundaries of the sets they have been distributed into.” In these lines of thinking the differenciation in university pedagogy invites us to engage in encounters that open up possibilities of understanding disciplines and their pedagogy to something other than the already known, the established. The research project seeks to answer the following research questions:
1. How to theoretically conceive disciplinary differenciation within higher arts education?
2. What are the pedagogical undercurrents within the present day higher arts education in Finland?
3. How do university teachers cover, uncover, discover and/or recover their professional practice within higher arts education?
The overall aim of the study is to enhance self-understanding as well as to provide means for collegial reflexivity and discipline-based pedagogical development within the changing circumstances of higher arts education not only in Finland but internationally.
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