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Using the Arts in other Disciplines to foster Transformative Learning in Higher Education Associate Professor Digby Warren London Metropolitan University.

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Presentation on theme: "Using the Arts in other Disciplines to foster Transformative Learning in Higher Education Associate Professor Digby Warren London Metropolitan University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using the Arts in other Disciplines to foster Transformative Learning in Higher Education Associate Professor Digby Warren London Metropolitan University presentation to Lady Irwin College, 16 January 2014

2 Arts-based Learning This approach has been called “Arts-based inquiry” – a term adopted from research literature by Louise Younie Definition: “student practical engagement with any art form – poetry, photography, painting, narrative, sculpture, dance, music etc. - as they reflect on their experiences” (Younie 2013, p.25) Art forms can stimulate “inquiry” in the sense of seeking to understand in a new and deeper way

3 Arts-based Learning across Disciplines Examples art / image-making – Medical education, Healthcare, Marketing, Child Care video / photography – teacher education film (cinema) – Economics music-making – Leadership & Management drama – Applied Ethics poetry – Business, Healthcare story-telling – Social Work, Healthcare labyrinth – various disciplines (Dentistry, Law, MBA etc) See McIntosh & Warren (eds) (2013) Creativity in the Classroom: Case Studies in Using the Arts in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

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5 Power of Creative Methods Arts-based methods use symbolic objects = multi-sensory, multi-faceted forms of expression, which can: generate rich insights by unlocking unconscious ideas, feelings or memories employ the power of metaphorical thinking at both theoretic (reasoning) and poetic (imagination) levels foster student reflection, self-knowledge, creative thinking and metacognition (awareness of one’s thinking and learning processes) enable “transformative learning” approaches concerned with whole person development

6 Transformative Learning (TL) Mezirow’s (1991) notion of “perspective transformation” = shift towards “more inclusive” perspectives (ways of seeing) as a result of critical reflection on our existing beliefs and assumptions; a rationalist model of TL holistic notions of TL - “use of all the functions we have available for knowing, including our cognitive, affective, somatic, intuitive, and spiritual dimensions” (cited in Taylor 1997 p.49) = mind, heart, body and spirit all involved in coming to know/make sense of things Barnett (2007) – urges that Higher Education should take seriously the student as a human being and learning as journey of engagement, passion, being and becoming

7 Arts-based Inquiry creative methods used as vehicles for exploration of and reflection on prior experience, e.g. – using a poem to think about patient care (doctors and nurses in training) and develop empathy activities as direct forms of experiential learning, e.g. – learning about teamwork via collective music-making = metaphor for leadership (as “improvisation”) and teamwork (as “performance”) – reflecting on one’s life path or ‘script’ through telling stories based on professional experiences (e.g. child care workers) – walking a labyrinth = meditative space for reflection and creativity

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9 Arts-based Inquiry Challenges metaphors can constrain ways of seeing – consider limitations of particular metaphors (where appropriate) stories can be oppressive, if used to preach or control – ensure ethical, anti-discriminatory practice students feeling blocked by lack of artistic skills or ‘internal critic’ - point of the exercise is engagement initial anxiety or some potential resistance – clarify the purpose of tasks & allow students time to settle into them uncovering of unconscious emotions, attitudes or beliefs can be cathartic but also mixed reactions – acknowledge the emotional, be available to talk privately to individuals

10 Arts-based Inquiry Role of the lecturer set clear boundaries and ground rules – safe space, rapport and trust ‘leader and facilitator’, also ‘questioner, challenger, supporter, clarifier and explainer’ authenticity – being open and honest inspires students to be the same choose assessment methods appropriate to the nature of the learning in subject/course clear guidance about assessment expectations and potential learning benefits of creative approaches

11 Outcomes (from real case studies) deeper learning: increased motivation, participation and enjoyment by students “more democratic” interaction and more co-learning between students and teachers enhanced confidence, resilience and self-belief deeper reflection and creativity stimulated transformative learning: deeper awareness of own values, aspirations, emotions and inert prejudices, and how to deal with them better in professional situations more openness towards others and to alternative perspectives

12 Arts-based Inquiry Assessment example: portfolio of “patch work” texts 1. Formative elements (“patches”) relevant to the subject matter/course and chosen by the student, e.g. a short story or poem (written by the student) an article or book review visual reflection on a personal experience (drawing, collage, photograph) application of a theory to professional practice notes from a field trip or museum visit patches discussed with peers 2. Summative element: critical commentary “stitches” together the patches and draws on further (theoretical) reading to produce a synthesis which addresses the main aims of the module/course

13 References Barnett, Ronald (2007) A Will to Learn: Being a Student in an Age of Uncertainty. Berkshire: Open University Press Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Taylor, Edward W. (1997) Building on the theoretical debate: A critical review of the empirical studies of Mezirow’s transformative learning theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 48 (1), pp Younie, Louise (2013) Introducing Arts-based Inquiry into Medical Education: ‘Exploring the Creative Arts in Health and Illness’, in Paul McIntosh & Digby Warren (editors), Creativity in the Classroom: Case Studies in Using the Arts in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Bristol: Intellect, chapter 2


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