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Art for Literacy's Sake


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Art for Literacy's Sake

  1. 1. 1 Art for Literacy’s Sake: Using the visual arts as a vehicle for literacy development in young people. Introduction This inquiry seeks to find out if young people in Stirling engaging with Youth Services community based learning programmes develop their knowledge and skills in literacies through participation in informal visual arts based learning. The paper will discuss the accepted meaning of literacy and its value within the Scottish context. I will review other authors who discuss how art can be utilised as a means to developing literacy skills. Through collaborative work with a Youth Worker and by using dialogical and behavioural analysis, this inquiry seeks to establish whether action research can validate the existing research and theories and expand knowledge around the topic. I will triangulate practice with relevant policy, theory and research. Aims of the Review  To explore whether young people develop can skills in areas beyond the art activity, specifically literacy based skills.  To establish whether young people might favour this approach to developing literacy skills over traditional methods Parameters of the Review  To examine literature pertinent to the 16 – 25 age group.  To concentrate primarily on learning within a community based context.  To focus particularly on the relationship between visual art practice and literacy development. While I have worked within these parameters as far as possible, the scarcity of material on youth literacies, particularly in the Scottish context, have made it sensible to seek beyond them. Material from wider searches is included, particularly from America and England, and also Scottish reports on adult education as they are inclusive of the 16+ age group.
  2. 2. 2 The Context of My Practice As a Youth Services Worker in Stirling responsible for a 16+ learning programme, my inquiry is driven by the following factors.  Low literacy is associated with school leavers aged 16 who become removed from education.  Residents of the Central Belt are twice as likely as the rest of Scotland to face literacy difficulties.  The impact of low literacy has a ripple effect instigating various other long term social and health related concerns. What is Literacy and Why is it Important? The Curriculum for Excellence states “literacy is a set of skills which allow an individual to engage fully in society”. (Scottish Government,2010:1). It is the ability to “identify, understand and interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” (UNESCO, 2004) It can be the ability “to read, write, use numbers, handle information, express ideas and opinions, make decisions and solve problems.” (Scottish Executive, 2001) Literacy is the understanding of text, which by definition is a medium through which information can be communicated, examples of which include charts, maps, timetables, films, signs and instructions (Scottish Government, 2010). As a concept, literacy is multi faceted, communication through many sign systems (Kendrick and McKay2002). More specifically these are emotional literacy (Weare, 2004), reading and writing, computer literacy, mobile phone use, body language, graphical, audio, video and cultural literacy – channels through which we communicate. (Frey, 2010). Literacy, to summarise, is not a technique, but a process of constructing meaning and communicating. It is this more holistic understanding I will refer to when using the term ‘literacy’ throughout this paper. Policy Context Low literacy is associated with several social and economic issues. The impact of the skills gap results in individuals’ exclusion from the job market, alienation from modern
  3. 3. 3 culture and increasingly; homelessness (Scottish Government, 2008). These issues have called for government intervention. Youth is of particular interest to policy makers because young people are the workers and decision makers of tomorrow. Almost all adults lacking in literacy skills today left formal education aged 16 (Scottish Government, 2008) and entered the workforce. School leavers of today are faced with increased competition for jobs, with literacy barriers likely to distance them further from the job market. (Youth Link 2005). There is a high overall percentage of adults in Scotland affected by low literacy, judged to be around 4 in 10 over 16s. The evidence highlighted in the Scottish Executive’s report on Adult Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland (2001) which draws on the International Adult Literacy Survey (1996) identifies particular need for provision in the immediate post school period (Youth Link 2005) and has been backed up by the subsequent research by UNESCO (2004). These findings influenced the National Performance Framework 4 (Scottish Government, 2007), an outcome that seeks better educated, more skilled and successful young people. Given that all young people have the right to an education (Scottish Government, 2009) and that the current skills gap will have far reaching social impact, there is increasing need to address the issue in Community Learning and Development based provision. The Scottish Government views literacy attainment as key to the country’s overall economic development (Scottish Executive, 2001), achievable through the Economic Strategy that aims to develop skills of young people. (Scottish Government, 2009). They insist that a literacy skill base is crucial to the process so that all citizens understand policies and priorities, and enhance the work force by their increased employability. Furthermore, it will create a more inclusive society with increased understanding of all cultures. (Scottish Executive, 2001). This concept is rooted in Paulo Freire’s philosophy as the educator championed the emancipatory value of literacy as an enabler of participation in society (Freire, 1990). Although Freire’s social and cultural context differs radically from that of modern Scotland, the claim holds resonance as modern daily life requires the application of literacy skills to handle information, express and communicate and participate within an information based society. Whilst (UNESCO, 2004) agree the transformative benefits of literacy, they disagree that it holds the immediate key to economic growth. As an
  4. 4. 4 emancipatory concept, however, development of literacy is significant to Community Learning and Development values. Personalised learning for young people is prioritised within National Outcome 4’s Curriculum for Excellence (C for E), (Scottish Government, 2009). It champions the back door approach to literacy education, recommending that practitioners take advantage of opportunities to integrate literacy through cross learning in other subject areas. (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2009). Certainly within the Youth Work context, literacies should not be singled out as a separate area of learning. (Youth Link, 2005). Governments are nowadays increasingly looking to the transformative potential of visual art in engaging young people, (Harding, 2005) in contrast to the embedded educational notion by Bloom’s Taxonomy that art is a purely affective subject. (cited in Atkinson and Dash, 2005 ) In this paper I use the (Hickman, 2010) definition of art, which is to mean making things, experiencing a creative process. It is this definition I refer to when using the term. Previous Research Empirical Research To The Max by (Youth Link, 2005) studied the implications of low literacy for young people in Scotland and ways in which provision could be made attractive. The qualitative study identified those creative, arts based approaches as having the most success in engagement, providing that the learning was centred around work skills and focussed on self esteem, noting that the key factor in engaging young people was relationship based, those non-dichotomised settings being most conducive to effective learning. The New York Guggenheim inquiry (Solomon, 2007) into literacy development through the visual arts is exemplary research. The three-year study is thorough in both use of quantative and qualitative data gathering, making use of control groups, test score analysis and drawing on case study findings. The report concludes that use of art enhanced the literacy curriculum by its interactive nature. There was statistically marked improvement in learners’ emotional, visual and verbal literacy.
  5. 5. 5 Writing in The Power of Pictures (Olshansky, 2008) presents extensive quantative research reinforcing the Guggenheim Inquiry findings. Her studies demonstrate the over all success of an arts approach to literacy for all young people and highlights the negative implications of a word based approach on the learner whose strengths are not language based. These points have association with my own practice where I regularly encounter anxieties around word use combined with low confidence in the young people I engage. Are these factors a contribution to, if not the main cause of their disengagement from school? Encouragingly, Olshansky’s (2008) case studies reveal that young people write more fluidly following a single art intervention because they have employed visualisation and can translate the imagery to words more readily than without use of drawing in between. The limitations of these international studies to this inquiry are the school settings and lack of consideration of the role of emotional literacy in learning. Arguably young people engaged with the work because the approach and environment are refreshing to them, or because they had a level of positive engagement with formal education. However, similar practice can still be applied successfully within a community based setting in Scotland judging by the Youth Link research (2005) which is more relevant to this inquiry. Art as a vehicle for literacy development: (Olshansky, 2008) maintains that art is a visual language that runs parallel to verbal language. Vygotsky concurs that drawing is a literacy, a type of speech because it engages language use and is a basis for making a story (cited in Kenrick and McKay, 2002). Visual arts such as the comic strip are a valid medium of communication, its production requires interpretation, narrative and understanding of the relationship between words and pictures (Atkinson and Dash, 2002), and is highlighted by C for E as a prime tool for learning (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2009). Use of art within a CLD context is valid. It is a suitable means for young people low in reading, writing and emotional literacies to communicate and to engage in the learning environment as demonstrated in the Museum Clearing Project. (Atkinson and Dash, 2005) (Elfland, 2002) argues that art learning builds cognitive development, specifically the ability to relate isolated areas of information to wider contexts, grasp complex tasks and problem solve. (Matarisso, 1997) agrees that art work develops perception,
  6. 6. 6 spatial awareness and mark making. Participation in visual arts workshops can directly develop a young person’s literacy competence because it develops organisational skills and comprehension of geometric shapes as required in reading and writing (Elfland, 2002) (NACCCE, 1996) advocate that creativity is vital in the development of reading and writing. (Smythe n.d) reinforces this, proposing that art enhances language and literacy skills. (Atkinson and Dash, 2005) state that drawing in particular is an effective method for developing writing skills and (Eisner, 2002) supports this by proposing that art allows for understanding of geometric shape and forms. (Eisner, 2002) argues that the cognitive processes used in making art are the same as learning to read and write. By engaging young people in arts based learning, they informally develop their visual language, cognitive schemata and therefore their literacy in maps, charts, diagrams and instructions and ability to approach reading and writing. (Elfland, 2002) In opposition to this, several authors propose that art does not directly develop literacy, but rather that these skills are a by-product of engagement in the activity, an in-direct outcome. The arguments are summarised in four themes below: Strategy, Confidence, Emotional Literacy and Reflection and Dialogue. (Kendrick and McKay, 2002) advocate processes in art develop strategic competence. Because art is a playful activity, it supports learner strategies in attendance and engagement, making it possible to engage in reading and writing thereafter. Reinforcing this argument in Why We Make Art and Why it is Taught David Perkins uses the metaphor of art as an anchor, securing a young person’s attention. (cited in Hickman, 2010). In support of these claims (Eisner, 2002) states that art teaches the construction of elements in relation to being literal and logical, it is concerned with understanding the relationship between concepts and parts, and fosters a type of somatic knowledge. David Perkins agrees, stating that art leads to creative connections, building thinking skills in general. (cited in Hickman, 2010). Participation in art fosters organisational skills (Matarasso, 1997) and cognitive schemata (Eisner, 2002) all conducive to the learning of literacies by default. The second counter argument involves confidence. (Craig, 2007) advocates that art activities enhance confidence, which in turn enhances ability to learn. (Grant, 2008) argues that learners become more confident in engaging with literacy when the task is made playful and non threatening through art. This theory is evidenced through the
  7. 7. 7 Bootle Art Project where the work concluded that art was merely a catalyst for other growth and learning because the young people’s confidence was raised (Harding, 2005). To illustrate this theory, I have constructed the following diagram: Thirdly, increased ability in literacies when art is involved is attributed to the acts of reflection and dialogue. (Eisner 2002) advocates that a synthesis occurs with art; when young people participate creatively, they are stimulated to talk and use words and that having pictures in their mind pushes them to describe a vision verbally. In addition, (Atkison and Dash, 2005) reinforce this by proposing that arts based activities have a transformative quality embodying Freire’s theories of dialogical approach; reflection in action. Producing artwork; the action, prompts discussion with peers and workers; the reflection; such as practiced in the Reggio Emilia programme in Italy where elaboration of word use grows through reflection on drawing. (cited in Atkinson and Dash, 2005). Furthermore, dialogue, connected with reflection, cements our understanding of concepts such as demonstrated by Schon’s double loop learning (cited in Ledwith and Springett 2010) because it reinforces the learning. (Harding, 2005) supports these claims by proposing that dialogue comes about through the collaborative and co-operative nature of arts activities. The Creative Pedagogies research found that young people became engaged in writing through art, simply because the activity evoked conversation and narrative which acts a conductor between the two mediums (Grant, 2008). Controversially, (Kendrick and McKay, 2002) oppose this, claiming that any art – literacy phenomenon results because art is a vehicle for expression and a tool by which professionals can keep young people engaged in literacy contexts, that
  8. 8. 8 drawing lifts the constraints young people face in writing. In support of this, David Perry states that art breaks down the barriers to thinking. (cited in Hickman,2010). However, (Kendrick and McKay, 2002) also indicate that language and literacy skills are developed through an increased sense of narrative by use of visual stimuli, an argument which connects back into the school of thought that art can directly enhance literacy in the learner. The final prominent argument is for emotion. (Milbraith and Lightfoot, 2009) advocate that a young person engaged in art will develop empathy and emotional awareness through the task, the foundations they require to be open to any learning. In agreement (Hickman, 2010) states that art enables a young person to develop understanding of themselves and the world around them. (Nemec and Roffey n.d.) advocate that self awareness and emotional intelligence are essential for young people to be able to engage in any learning. (Harding, 2005) highlights that art fosters motivation, self-esteem and achievement. (Olshansky, 2008) vehemently supports this, stating that particularly for those learners drawn by and attune to creativity, art will engage, build respect from peers and self respect, which opens a positive emotional gateway through which to embrace literacy. To summarise and connect all of these arguments, art and word skills are not isolated but are connected fluidly by emotional awareness. The three areas of literacy link to one another, the former enhancing the latter via increased confidence and engagement. I have constructed the following diagram to illustrate this. Controversially, in this debate both (Elfland, 2002) and (Eisner, 2002) present points in support of each argument of art being direct or indirect in literacy development. This presents an additional argument in compromise that art does support literacy
  9. 9. 9 learning because it engages the brain, stimulating the type of cognition transferable to literacy comprehension. (Hickman, 2010) reinforces this, claiming that thoughtful art opens a wide spectrum of cognition including analytical thinking, visual processing and conceptual connection. Similar to the arguments around strategy, (Elfland, 2002) claims that art breeds improvisational intelligence in a learner – the thinking that Dewey called “Flexible Purposing.” (cited in Eisner, 2002). In support, (Elfland, 2002) claims that nurturing of this thinking support the learner in literacy development. Furthermore, (Harding, 2005) proposes that making art combines critical and generative thinking and by taking a scaffolding approach within arts activities, it optimises a young person’s ability to learn in any other context because it builds cognitive culture. From a less scientific paradigm but complementing this premise, (Ledwith and Springett, 2010) state that art engages the brain through the senses, exploring the emotional, spiritual, mental and social holistically, the additional benefit implied here being the transformational change that can occur along with practical skills. (2010) There is opposition to the argument of art being the only vehicle by which low literacy learners can ride. Some authors advocate that it is not the only mode or necessarily the optimal one. The vehicle is interchangeable as demonstrated in my next model.
  10. 10. 10 The Kenneth Loach film Kes demonstrates that young people’s minds open and flow when engaged by anything of stimulation or personal interest (cited in Harding, 2005). The theory of Multiple Intelligence highlights that we learn best when we come from a position of personal strength, which may be via art, music, dialogue, emotion, athletics, logic or socialising. (Gardener,1993). I have constructed the following model to illustrate this concept in relation to visual arts.
  11. 11. 11 However, (Gardener, 1993) does single art out as the only method that can enhance a young person’s skills and understanding across all disciplines, arguing that the same concept cannot be applied readily to other subject areas. The first question these writers pose is whether art as an informal approach is an effective method for engaging young people in literacy learning? (Elfland, 2002) argues that young people require an informal approach to literacy because to them
  12. 12. 12 the formal curriculum is irrelevant. (Craig, 2007) concurs claiming that creativity provides those young people not interested in literacy pursuits with an opportunity to succeed. Art promotes self-esteem, enhances motivation and is effective for captivating those young people at risk of becoming disengaged from learning. (Atkinson et al, 2005). In addition, (Grant et al, 2008) argue that as an approach, art is non-threatening, so encourages learner participation and engagement. Creative work is a means to identify individual needs and to develop their skills, freeing up creative thinking in ways that formal learning environments inadvertently stifle (Harding 2005). (Elfland, 2002) supports this, stating that art in an informal context engages young people in learning because it takes an open minded approach, unlike formal education approaches which take more specific routes to set outcomes. (Harding, 2005) reinforces this advocating how both art and the informal approach to learning have elasticised boundaries, young people engage more willingly than in formal education which sets rigid parameters. Use of art in this sense breaks the boundaries and hierarchies of formal learning allowing for the flow of thought. In disagreement, Gardener (1993) advocates that a young person is best engaged specifically through their own personal interests. (Olshanky, 2008) differs in opinion again, her own exemplary research finding that virtually all young people excel in literacy learning through art, regardless of their preferred learning style. The second question is whether it is the vehicle enhancing the learning experience for young people or the approach? Non-formal art activity provides a level playing field for professionals and young people collaboratively, pursuing that quest for “mutual humanisation” favoured by (Freire, 1990). Art is conducive to Carl Roger’s theories on “congruent learning” (cited in Kirschenbaum, 1990) because visual outcomes are undetermined and art facilitates a journey for both learning and development of practitioner and young person. (Seftel, 2006). However, art may not be the conductor of literacy acquisition; the relationship between learner and practitioner may be the catalyst. This query is underlying in the Black Angels literacy project (Atkinson et al, 2005) where the success of the project is attributed to the relationship between practitioner and learners, because the person centred approach nurtured creativity, leading to engagement in reading and writing with less fear. This both argues for and against art being direct or even indirect in developing literacy skills, as in this case these come secondary to the relationship element of the practice.
  13. 13. 13 What are the arguments that art is a vehicle to developing literacy skills by the nature of its practice? (Ledwith and Springett, 2010) argue that it enhances learning and development in relating to others; the very participatory process of creating empowers young people, encouraging communication. From an alternative paradigm, because making and viewing art is a sensory experience, it is an effective training tool (Seftel, 2006). (Olshansky, 2008) advocates that creating pictures supports literacy learning, reading and writing and emotion specifically, for all learners regardless of ability and by providing learners with multiple modes of thinking, they enter literacy processes from a position of personal strength, unlike the formal approach which hinders understanding. This directly supports (Gardener, 1993) Multiple Intelligences theory. However, (Olshansky, 2008) counters her own arguments by stating that young people need to be offered a range of entryways to literacy. Art is just one method, a vehicle interchangeable with others, as I have previously illustrated. Young people should be engaged in a range of learning styles. Learning through visual means in isolation is counter -productive. (Nemec and Roffey n.d.) propose that young people benefit most from a whole-brain approach to enhance verbal and linguistic styles and develop sound emotional literacy. (Harding,2005) informs that the education sector is increasingly utilising art as a means to engage young people, yet there is no real evidence that it has benefits. An argument not raised by any of these writers but a point which I would be mindful of in my own practice by drawing from the aforementioned theories is that by developing visual comprehension in learners, practitioners may be providing young people with a means to conceive negative strategies to be evasive of reading and writing, potentially further distancing them from those skills, though undoubtedly the process enhances emotional literacy, well being and communication, the portal to every learners’ journey, to literacy and beyond.
  14. 14. 14 Methodology In order to gain a true insight into young people’s attitudes and opinions of literacy learning and use of art as a vehicle, it is appropriate to gather qualitative data. The topic is subjective, seeking opinion and analysis of discourse not evident in statistical information. Words and images can help a researcher interpret a situation and gain a deeper understanding of perception. (Denscombe, 2010). Action research is the most viable means for gathering the data. (Ledwith and Springett, 2010). According to (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2005), participation in an activity helps a young person understand a concept, to reflect on and evaluate it. (cited in Whittaker, 2008). This approach actively generates practical knowledge directly applicable to improvement of people’s everyday lives, offering scope for more critical praxis (Ledwith and Springett, 2010).This theory, combined with the inquiry focus group links directly to the Government’s assessment that literacy development will have wider benefit to society. (Scottish Executive, 2001) The impact of Action Research on a Learner
  15. 15. 15 This Inquiry took form of a practical art workshop that required participants to use visualisation, employ information technology, communicate verbally through speech and writing, express emotion and harness self-awareness. By integrating the focus group within the participant’s existing programme structures, the activity is more conducive to natural conversation and behaviour. The group session took place as the weekly “Fun Friday” activity in normal programme hours and environment. One to one interviews were scheduled to take place in another centre but equally as familiar to the young people who are accustomed to that venue as a one to one space. This approach was appropriate for maintaining a natural structure for the participants, to keep them relaxed in familiar settings and allow for natural responses to action and discussion. Unfortunately individual interviews did not go ahead. Five scheduled sessions were each cancelled due to circumstances out with control. My reasoning behind the small-scale research is for qualitative purposes, to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and opinions of young people as individuals. This is conducive to my practice within a youth service, where I
  16. 16. 16 champion and advocate for the person centred approach (Carl Rogers cited in Kirschenbaum, 1990). I consciously adapt my practice and approach to working with each individual with a view to improving their quality of life and chance of success. The Youth Worker and Case Holder responsible for managing the programme identified the participants as suitable for the research. Each of the young people in attendance had self disclosed needing extra help with literacies in their Individual Learning Plans. There was no particular interest in art identified. Each had left school aged 16 and were non-participants within their formal education settings, key groups identified as at risk within the literature review. Having identified that literacy is a difficulty for the participants, the methodology and strategy are more appropriate than formal interview settings or expectation of written inputs. The practical nature of the workshop allowed the researcher explicit means to illustrate the inquiry concept to the worker and participants. To add to the existing knowledge base, I aim to answer the following questions.  Through participation in practical arts based workshops can young people develop skills in areas beyond the given activity?  Do young people prefer this approach to learning skills over traditional methods? Participants Three young people took part in a practical art workshop. I met all of the young people within their 16+ programme run by the Local Authority. The programme seeks to progress young people to positive destinations by taking a solution- focussed approach to the multiple personal barriers they face to employment and education. These can include low-level literacy, poor communication skills, low confidence and poor attendance / performance at school. I met with six young people one to one on a weekly basis for four weeks to get to know them and build a trusting relationship. Through close working with the responsible Case Holder on the programme, I arranged a practical arts workshop and interviews within the routine structure of the programme for the convenience and accessibility of the
  17. 17. 17 participants. Methods involved participant observation, individual interviews and a practical workshop with naturalistic group discussion. The workshop context was informal. I provided the young people with refreshments, a choice of working spaces and the option of playing favourite music from a website while we worked. Their discussion was recorded on a Dictaphone. The workshop required participants to follow written and verbal instructions, draw on emotional connections, and handle a range of media including art materials and Information Technology as well as to engage in group discussion. In an interview following the session, the practitioner present shared her observations. [Young people got] the chance to express themselves, share something of themselves in a subtle way, show off their musical tastes - talk in a non-eye-contact close situation. Do something new. [The workshop] strongly addresses the need of individuals, and combines several varying skills allowing yp to build on their strengths but develop new skills - recognises that learning can be delivered in several, fun ways. [The benefits were] hidden literacies and the chance to do a fun activity that met several [of our] priorities and needs of young people [including] IT, art, planning and organisation. One [young person] in particular was experiencing chaos in her home life but she felt safe to remain with the session and was distracted by the activity. Each participant developed an individual art piece based on the words and associated thoughts and feelings of a meaningful song of their choice. The young people painted a canvas and arranged typed song lyrics on top. From here, I asked young people to put images on the canvas of the pictures that enter their mind when they hear or read the words of the song. During the activity I prompted discussion with the questions  What does the term Literacy mean to you?  How have you learned Literacy in the past?  What makes you attend the sessions in your programme?  What stops you coming to a session sometimes?
  18. 18. 18  Is it better to learn reading, writing and communication on their own, or through a task / project?  Is art an enjoyable way to learn reading, writing and knowing yourself?  What other ways and places have you done Literacy learning and what was it like? I analysed all of the recorded material along with my field notes and have grouped my findings into key themes. These are highlighted by direct quotes from participants. I include my analysis and interpretation of the data within each section theorising my observations of the group. In the following themed excerpts we are discussing meaningful songs, their associated memories and visual connections in addition to “literacy” and personal experiences of the term. Positive engagement From observation, participants were behaviourally and verbally positive in task engagement. At the very beginning of the workshop when we sat as a group for the first time, there was an air of reluctance, participants visibly uncomfortable with the situation. On introduction of discussion about songs, the group became animated and interactive having been silent up until then. Researcher: What music do you like? Participant C: Reggae! And Rap! Bob Marley and Eminem! It is clear here that participants were enthused by the topic. Perhaps music is an area of particular interest. My own theory is that by giving the participants control over the discussion, engaging them in level dialogue, they were more willing to participate in the activity. This can be linked to Harding’s theory that art builds self esteem (2005). Self Consciousness Worker: You mentioned liking NdubZ last week? Participant A: O I diny ken (Shrugs)
  19. 19. 19 Participant C: They’re guid (nodding) Participant A: Aye I dae like them.. (expression lifts)…… Researcher: Do you have a song that’s special to you, maybe romantic? Participant C: Nuh nuh I’m no like that… It is clear here that there was an element of self-consciousness during the discussion. Potentially participant A felt insecure about her tastes within the company of her peers. Later on in the discussion Participant C was as reluctant to share info about his girlfriend during a discussion. Participants, though having built up a trusting relationship with the worker and myself appear to not have the same level of trust in one another and therefore maintained an opacity in their conversation. The workshop was designed to probe taste, feelings and emotion. The soul bearing nature of the activity, though subtle in its execution, seems to have been slightly threatening to the group. My interpretation is that it was not the activity itself that hindered discussion but the group dynamic and absence of trust among peers. I was pleasantly surprised to observe the participants not put up barriers to the creative activity or assume they could not do it, their confidence was clearly raised as the Literature Review of this paper anticipates. The literature, however, does not highlight the potential for self- consciousness in art workshops. The hesitancy was clearly around intra-personal tasks. Self Awareness “ It chills me oot when I’m crabbit” “ Bob Marley ..makes me have energy, makes me want to go to the gym” (gestures running motion and smiles)
  20. 20. 20 Researcher: I would pick whichever song is most meaningful to you… Participant A: I diny ken. I feel funny aboot it. (holds paper to her chest, drawing arms in and pushing back against her chair). Researcher: Is anyone willing to share why their song is meaningful? Participant A: No. We can see clearly here that when linking a song of personal interest to the associated memories and feelings, the participants are conscious of the impact music has on them and openly verbalise this. The young people demonstrate self- awareness and openness emotionally, but are uneasy about sharing specific thoughts, memories or mental imagery. In the final excerpt the participant demonstrates reluctance about having her chosen song known to the group, even without sharing her thoughts about it. She is conscious that the song is deeply meaningful to her and represents private thoughts, she articulates this in her verbal and body language and later through the absence of images on the art work. This dovetails with the arguments centred on emotion in the literature review. Art processes are emotional gateways to understanding yourself and the world around you (Hickman, 2010). Though the emotional awareness raised in this session stimulated a nervousness as much as positivity.
  21. 21. 21 Emotional Literacy Researcher: Is anyone willing to share why their song is meaningful? Participant C: Makes me happy! (smiles) This participant showed genuine joy at the thought of his chosen song, I observed a lift in his expression and demeanour. He was able to articulate this verbally and was clearly conscious of the connection between the music and his own emotions. Earlier in the discussion he acknowledged the potential negative effects. I asked: [Is there] a song that can make or break your whole day? Participant C: Yeah I know what you’re talking about. The participant engaged positively and made connections between the music and his feelings. The indirect discussion around feelings was non-threatening making the topic more accessible for the young person. My own interpretation is that the element of choice within the creative process stimulated his interest and willingness to embrace the themes. Furthermore, art as a process was helpful for the individual to better understand himself because he was in charge of the direction of the work,
  22. 22. 22 driven by emotion over reason and encountering opportunities to make connections in his mind and within the world around him as claimed by (Hickman, 2010). Extended Narrative Researcher: I’m interested to know your song? Participant A: No way. It just reminds me of a night. A bad night. Worker: Does the song make you feel bad? Participant A: Nuh. It wisnae bad that way. It makes me laugh. I just done a bad thing. O my god. I’m no saying what… The song’s about sex but it’s nothing to do wi’ that. It was just playing the night I took something I shouldnae uv. It was bad but that song just takes me right back tae it. Notably the participants were most verbose in the discussion when referring to their song and / or art work, speaking in longer sentences. In the literature review both (Kendrick and McKay, 2002) and (Olshansky, 2008) observe that visual stimuli increase narrative therefore developing literacy ability. The creative process may have unlocked language abilities, which reflects the theories of (Eisner, 2002) on art and cognition, or it may be that young people find it easier to talk about music or art because it is effectively shielding their own thoughts, making them feel less vulnerable or exposed. Limited Visualisation Researcher: Ok so think about your song. Can you hear it in your head? Hearing the words and reading them, what pictures come into your mind? Participant A: (laughs) O nuh. Nuh. Researcher: Ok so you do have pictures in your mind? Can you put into words what the images in your mind are?
  23. 23. 23 Participant A: Naw I diny get any images. Nothin at a’. I can hear the song but the inside of my heid goes blank. Nah I diny get anything like that at a’… I like it like this.Can I just leave it like this? From the dialogue here it is possible that the young person has limited ability in terms of visualisation, which could support Multiple Intelligences theory (Gardener, 1993) suggesting she has an alternative strength. In my own opinion as an observer of the situation, I suspect that given she had shown earlier signs of self consciousness, she may have felt exposed or vulnerable by discussing any mental imagery associated with the song and so denied having any. There are two factors likely to have caused this – the presence of workers and / or the presence of a group of peers may have felt an unsafe setting to the young person to reveal private thoughts. Negativity towards literacy learning At specific points in the discussion around Literacy, the participants were negative in attitude, behaviours and word use, in contrast to the earlier positivism generated by discussion around art and music. Researcher: What does literacy mean to you? What do you think of? Participant C: Being bored. Participant A: School. Writing. Reading a book. Boring. Participant C: Boring stuff. Researcher: So you know this has been a literacy session? Participant A: Aye but this is awright like. We can see here that introduction of the term “literacy” disrupted the flow of the discussion. You get this sense by the way that two of the participants’ style of response changed immediately from lengthy, narrative, descriptive sentences to stinted, one word answers. There is clearly a negative association with the term itself or with the situations in which literacy was a focus, in this case; school. As non- attenders at school it is most likely that use of this terminology is a reminder of an unpleasant experience to these participants. I noted that the words, body language and communication became overall negative and closed at this point. I have been
  24. 24. 24 unable to source any literature on research into the causes of low literacy in Scotland and will recommend in this paper that knowledge of these could support strategies to learner solutions both within and following compulsory education. As I have already queried in the literature review, this issue has chicken and egg connotations – do learners have aversion to literacy because school was a negative experience, or was school a negative experience because the literacy learning was unsuitable for the individuals? The participants did not articulate any further. Previously, the young people demonstrated self-awareness and emotional literacy when discussing songs and images. In this part of the discussion they appear unable, or unwilling to articulate the cause and effect of their negativity. One explanation is that the process of creating and engaging with art was more conducive to verbal and emotional literacy ability than when consciously focussing on literacy itself. It may be that the earlier productivity and articulation was a product of positive mood, not necessarily because the activity was creative. Interestingly it was at this point that participant B spoke for the first time during the session. Exercising independence of thought. She stated : It’s ok to read and write. I like doing thae things. She uses her voice for the first time that morning to contradict the opinion of her peers. Her speech suggests that she doesn’t approve of the back door approach to literacy, however, she chose to sit through the session, albeit on a periphery, but as part of the group. At the close of the workshop we discuss alternative literacy provision. Researcher: So do you see how you’ve done literacy work today? Participant A: Aye. Reading and computers and words stuff…. Researcher: Yeah spot on. There’s ways to learn that are enjoyable. And we’ve used emotional literacy today as well, thinking about our feelings in relation to music and memories… Participant A: Aye aye aye. There is evidently a reluctant acceptance of the learning underneath the activity. Though nonchalant, Participant A acknowledges the value of the session without
  25. 25. 25 prompt. This demonstrates her preference of the approach to literacy above traditional methods which stifled her communication in earlier discussion. My interview with the Practitioner reinforces my own observations of the emotions and behaviours displayed within the group. [I was surprised by] Participation from individuals who have generally been quite 'closed', began sharing and displaying open behaviour. Conclusions and Recommendations 1. Did participants develop skills beyond the art activity? 2. Do the participants prefer this approach to traditional methods? As I have outlined in my observations and those of the practitioner, two of the three participants demonstrated development of skills in IT literacy, safe use of materials, visualisation, communication, issue based knowledge and emotional awareness with some tentative engagement in group discussion / intra-personal involvement. These participants expressed through dialogue and behaviour that the approach was preferable to previous experiences of literacy learning. The other participant, however verbalised the approach was not preferable though. Through dialogue with the practitioner I learned that this individual’s literacy competence was higher than her Individual Learning Plan had indicated and her personal circumstances that particular day were not conducive to her participation. To summarise, this inquiry has discussed the meaning and value of literacy and its place within a Scottish social and political context. The other authors have discussed how art can be a means of developing literacy skills, demonstrating evidence of this, though it remains unclear as to exactly why this happens. Through collaboration with a Youth Work practitioner and by using dialogical and behavioural analysis of young people’s action and conversation, this paper has identified that the participants observed match the risk factors highlighted in existing research on low literacy and
  26. 26. 26 responded behaviourally in kind with the observations of other authors into art as a literacy provision, with the exception of participant B who felt unwilling to try the activity at that time. I have been triangulated the practice of this workshop with relevant theory and existing research on the topic. I would make several significant recommendations following on from this inquiry. Given the high level of adults in Scotland who left school with low literacy abilities, more in-depth analysis is needed to explore the causes of this trend. Knowledge on the causes would help build strategies to reduce the figures and increase quality of life for more individuals. Further, as the connection between art and literacy enhancement is unclear, more studies by a range of professional disciplines would offer useful insight to fully harness the potential of creative work in relation to literacy education, as would further investigation into whether the vehicle or the relationship between young person and practitioner is actually the key to literacy successes. From a practical perspective there are lessons to be learned from the delivery of this inquiry’s workshop. Group settings require sensitivity to the dynamic and consideration of the particular literacy focus. Where a key theme of this inquiry’s group session was emotional literacy, it is important to approach this with caution depending on the group dynamic, or to utilise the approach in one to one settings only. Omitted from discussions in this paper but a theme that arose repeatedly in the research is the creative workshops’ potential as a platform for issue based work. Studies into the potential for art to develop learning in areas beyond literacy and practical skills would be of value to the CLD profession. Finally, caution must be applied when considering the replicability of this inquiry’s particular workshop. Within a CLD context, providers would benefit from considering their delivery style as they do a young person’s learning style, and that is to come at their work from their own personal strength in order to fully appreciate the reason behind the approach, not blindly following a session plan. A mild health warning, however; to prevent art serving as an additional barrier to learning, its use with individuals must take a person centred approach, the setting, environment, materials and activity being appropriate and attractive to each individual learner.
  27. 27. 27 Reflexive Discussion I had both personal and professional motivation for this inquiry. Within my practice I am constantly seeking new and viable methods for enhancing every individual’s capacity for learning and have observed first hand the potential art has for developing the skills and confidence of disengaged young people. Conversely, I have witnessed the immediate barrier to a trusting relationship that rises when any cold literacy task is brought to the table. I have sought to evaluate this observation objectively and professionally in order to enhance my own practice within CLD and Youth Work in particular. On a personal level, I recall as a child being captivated by Mr Miage’s teaching methods in Karate Kid and long wondered what magical potential other task based approaches have to skill development. Originally, as set out in my proposal, I intended to name the Inquiry Wax On Wax Off, alluding to the film, but throughout the process of the research, reasoned that Art for Literacy’s Sake specifies the content more clearly. I encountered problems throughout the process of this inquiry. Initially my own mental roadblocks regularly halted my momentum as I experienced the ‘white noise’ phase of learning the tutor had described. My own insecurities around academia hindered my progress for months at the start of the process, then frustration as I discovered that the more I was learning, the more I became aware how little I really know. I faced numerous practical problems to the inquiry process. The young people I targeted are chaotic and transient. Though 6 young people agreed to participate in the group workshop; just 3 attended. One of those was uncommunicative and inactive throughout. Further, the one to one interviews were scheduled on five occasions, the first with no attendance due to individual young people’s life circumstances, followed by four cancellations because of dangerous weather warnings in Central Scotland over an extended period. Disappointingly this narrowed my range of data and I had anticipated making valuable discoveries through more intimate interviews with participants.
  28. 28. 28 As a practicing artist and self-diagnosed visual learner, I am conscious of how employment of visual approaches to academic studies has enhanced my own learning and development and am aware that my knowledge of this and passion for the visual arts in general may have prejudiced my outlook on this inquiry, causing me to subconsciously seek out particular arguments or to misinterpret participant responses. I am aware that as a visual interpreter I analysed the situation in action. By observing choice of colour, use of composition and selection of imagery I felt I could see beneath the surface of each young person’s character presentation, their choices being so revealing to me. You could argue this might have prejudiced my interpretation of the findings though I believe it has enhanced my observations and analysis of the group’s behaviour. What have I learned about conducting research having gone through the process is that it’s like constructing a life painting – having an aim, roughly sketching the bones then the flesh then applying individual interpretation. Much less tedious than I’d anticipated. Qualitative research process has inspired me to make a difference all the more to young people who face barriers to literacy because I have increased understanding of their situation and the positive ripple effect this skill base makes and equally the negative ripples if it is lacked. I felt safe throughout the process. My tutor had advised I would experience stages of learning, white noise type anxiety through to clarity. And I have! When my anxiety passed, I experienced genuine flow, a sensation I’ve not encountered recently or perhaps at all. It’s satisfying and I’ve thrived on the experience. Naturally, some things went wrong in the process and, on reflection, I see that I should have considered more counter arguments to my inquiry aims. Though I didn’t find any in the literature, it is something I could have brain stormed with colleagues and partners for inclusion in the paper. In hindsight I ought to have run a series of workshops, for a few groups and individuals so there would be more data to draw on and analyse. I realise that I have only tentatively met my second aim To establish whether young people might favour this approach to developing literacy skills over traditional methods as my intention was to explore this more fully in the one to one interviews. The evaluation of the group session includes this feature but the verbal responses of the participants were inconclusive.
  29. 29. 29 Finally, my main source of frustration has been dissatisfaction in my writing style. I’ve struggled with verbal communication of this level and am concerned that the paper has a pretentious tone, making it less convincing or accessible to the reader. These are all areas I have reflected on and view as potential for ongoing development.
  30. 30. 30 Bibliography Atkinson, D and Dash, P (2005) Social and Critical Practices in Art Education London: Trentham Cleveland, W. (2008) Art and Upheavel Oakland: New Village Press Craig, C. (2007) Creating Confidence Glasgow: The Centre for Confidence and Well Being Darley, S. and Heath, W. (2008) Expressive Arts Activity Book: A Resource for Professionals London: JKP Denscombe, M. (2010) Ground Rules for Social Research Berkshire: Open University Press Dewey, J (2005) Art as Experience New York: Penguin Eisner, E. (2002) The Arts and the Creation of the Mind, Yale University Press Eisner, E. (2010) online lecture, What Do the Arts Teach? last viewed on 4 November 2010 Elfland, A.(2002) Art and Cognition: Integrating the Visual Arts In the Curriculum, New York: Teachers College Press Fraser, W. (1996) Learning from Experience Leicester: NIACE Freire, P. (1996) Pedagogy of the Oppressed London: Penguin Frey, T. (2009) viewed on 4 November 2010 Gardener, H. (1993) Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, New York: Basic Books Grant, A., Hutchison, K., Hornsby, D. and Brooke, S. Creative Pedagogies: Art- full Reading and Writing Journal of English Teaching: Practice and Critique May 2008, Volume 7, Number 1, pp 57-72 Harding, A (2005) Magic Moments: Collaborations Between Artists and Young People London: Black Dog
  31. 31. 31 Harrison, R and Wise, C. (2009) Working with Young People London: Sage Hetland, L., Winner, E. Veenema, S. and Sheridan, K. (2007) Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education New York: Teachers College Press Hickman, R. (2010) Why We Make Art and Why it is Taught Malta: Gutenberg Jackson, C., Hill, K. and Lewis, P. (2008) Child and Adolescent Mental Health Today Brighton: Pavilion Jeffs, T. and Smith, M. (2005) Informal Education, Nottingham: Educational Heretics Press Kendrick, M..and McKay,R. (2002), Uncovering Literacy Narratives Through Children’s Drawings, Canadian Journal of Education 27,1 (2002) pp45 – 60 Kester, G. (2004) Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art London: University of California Press Kirschenbaum, H. (1990) The Carl Rogers Reader, London: Constable Ledwith, M and Springett, J (2010), Participative Practice, Bristol: The Policy Press Lewis, R. and Paine, N. (1985) How to Communicate with the Learner London: Council for Educational Technology McConnell, C. (2002) The Making of an Empowering Profession West Lothian: Scottish Community Education Council McGrath, H and Noble, T. (2003) Bounce Back: A Class Room Resiliency Programme, Melbourne: Pearson Matarasso, F. (1997) Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts Stroud: Comedia Milbrath, C. and Lightfoot, C. (2010) Arts and Human Development – Jean Piaget Series, London: Psychology Press Morgan, W (1997) Critical Literacy in the Classroom: The Art of the Possible New York: Routledge Nemec M. and Roffey S. (no date), Paper NEM05355 Emotional Literacy and the case for a whole school approach to promote sustainable educational change. Sydney: University of Western Australia Olshansky, B (2008) The Power of Pictures: Creating Pathways to Literacy Through Art, SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass Roche, J., Tucker,S., Thomson, R. and Flynn, R. (2004) Youth in Society London: Sage Rogers,C., (1994) Freedom to Learn, New York: MacMillan
  32. 32. 32 Scottish Executive (2001) Adult Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland, Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Scottish Government (2008) The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Edinburgh: Scottish Government Scottish Government (2009), Valuing Young People, Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Scottish Government (2010), Curriculum for Excellence Literacy Across Learning: Principles and Practice, Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Scottish Government (2007) Framework for Local Authorities & Local Authority Partnerships: Single Set of National Indicators, London: Department for Communities and Local Government Seftel, L (2006), Grief Unseen, London: Jessica Kingsley Silverstone, L. (2009) Art Therapy Exercises London: JKP Simmons, L (2006) Interactive Art Therapy, America: Routledge Solomon, R. (2007) Guggenheim Museum: Teaching Literacy Through Art: New York: Randi Korn Smythe, P. (year unknown) Creative Thinking In Literacy, Art and Design, The Literacy Co-ordinator’s File 15: Online UNESCO (2004), The Plurality of Literacy and Its Implication for Policies and Programes, Paris, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Weare, K (2004), Developing the Emotionally Literate School, London: Sage Whittaker, L. (2008) Scotland’s Shame: A dialogical analysis of the identity of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training Stirling: University of Stirling Wilson, A. (2004) Last Week I Wrote A Letter For An Illiterate Guy in Prison, Scottish Youth Issues Journal, Issue 8 pp 57 - 70 Youth Link (2005) To the Max: Report on Youth Literacies within the Youth Work Sector Edinburgh: Youth Link Youth Link (2009) Statement on the Nature and Purpose of Youth Work Edinburgh: Youth Link
  33. 33. 33 Appendixes 1. Approved Proposal 2. Ethics Audit Form 3. Blank Consent Form 4. Action Focus Group Transcriptions 5. E – Interview With Practitioner 6. Focus Group Session Plan
  34. 34. 34 University of Dundee School of Education, Social Work and Community Education BA/BA (Hons) Community Education BA3 Work Based Core Module 2010/2011 An Inquiry Approach to Contemporary Issues in Learning & Development INQUIRY PROPOSAL FORM Student Name: Katie Carmichael Matriculation Number: 050009451 1. The purpose of this proposal is to generate ideas, data collection focus and research boundaries. The proposal should be completed (paper version only) sent to Tracy Cumming by Thursday 24 June 2010 at the latest. You should retain an electronic copy for possible further refinement.
  35. 35. 35 Wax on Wax off: Using the visual arts as a vehicle for literacy development. TOPIC OF THE INQUIRY This inquiry seeks to find out if young people in Stirling engaging with Youth Services community based learning programmes develop their knowledge and skills in literacies, numeracy and personal and social development through participation in informal visual arts based learning activities rather than as standalone areas of formal learning. The inquiry will gather the views of the young people through dialogue and participation in practical art based workshops. The aim is to establish whether a) Young people develop skills in areas beyond the art activity b) if young people prefer this approach to learning skills THE KEY CONCEPTS AND IDEAS TO BE UTILISED IN YOUR INQUIRY (Identify fully the central ideas you wish to explore and break these down into sub-themes. This section should be about 200 words.) The central ideas and sub themes I wish to explore are: Learning Style I will examine learning and participation types and models, including experiential learning, congruent learning, informal learning theory and theories on the process of learning. I will discuss the practice of reflection and the benefit for the learner on reflecting on experience. Practice I will examine ideas around participatory practice and the impact on the learner, the value of transformative practice, person centred learning and the application of this, and I will include discussion around adult learning theory. Change through Learning I will review theories on the instigation of wider social change prompted by learning with focus on emancipatory action research and liberation theories. I will include a review of policies focussing on learning and approaches to teaching, including discussion around theories on art education as a means for developing social and critical understanding. Context
  36. 36. 36 I will examine aforementioned key theories and policies and assess them in the context of contemporary community learning and development, in particular for young people in present day Stirling, comparing this with an international perspective THE METHODOLOGY TO BE APPLIED IN YOUR INQUIRY (Identify clearly the methods of data collection that you intend using or have used already and the role of others involved in the research as co-researchers or research participants. This section should be about 100 words covering the headings below.) (a) Permission and access to field setting approved Permission and access to the field setting has been approved by Lynne MacInnes, Youth Services Operational Leader (Stirling and Bannockburn). Youth Services Workers responsible for Community based Programmes have agreed sessional access to the groups, allowing me to facilitate arts based activities and conduct research with the groups and individuals. Practical workshops as a focus group and individual interviews are the most appropriate methods for this research in order for participants to understand the learning process, and have a practical experience to reflect on in interviews. The nature of the topic is dependent on qualitive research methods as the purpose is to establish participants preferred learning style and will not have a quantative outcome. The focus group will have 4 – 6 participants and each will be interviewed on an individual basis in order to reflect on their learning experience and to raise the same discussion points allowing participants opportunity to discuss any points they have made further in a private setting. I will triangulate data gathered in research meetings with existing research findings and current policy and theory. (a) Data gathering on placement/elsewhere I will gather data by film recording group activities, with film and photography consent of the participants, and from the parents of those under 16 years of age. I will sound record and / or film participants interviews and transcribe these and will facilitate free discussion and reflection in both group and individual settings. Confidentiality will be ensured, the footage and images will not be shared, participants will be assured in their consent forms that film is purely for the purpose of this research, copies will not be made. (b) Literature Research My literature research will triangulate existing theories, policy and research around my area of inquiry, namely on informal education, learning and teaching methods and styles and community learning and development principles and values. I will examine the limitations of these writings by their context in relation to mine, drawing mainly from sources most relevant to my topic. (c) Usage of the Research Journal
  37. 37. 37 I intend to take a 360° approach to journaling my experience, reflecting on my learning process, my conceptualisation of this and the reflective considerations of being a learner among learners and will use it to challenge my own thinking. I will reflect on my commitment to this approach to working with young people. A BRIEF STATEMENT OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS (Make the link from your previous/current learning to your current/future interests, for example from the Year 2 participative inquiry. Establish the relevance of the study a) for your own professional development and b) for the field of community education. This section should be about 100 words.) As a Youth Services Worker with a focus on learning programmes, this inquiry is conducive to developing my practice with young people, in particular around the development of skills in literacies with young people who have not sustained placements in formal education settings. As Worker with responsibility for delivery of arts based activities in community centres, this inquiry has relevance for my planning, delivery, self evaluation and communication of the value of the visual arts in CLD. My previous inquiry focused on the Services supporting young people. In this year’s inquiry I am focussed on the learner and methods of practice, areas of my practice over which I have greater control and influence. Subsequently, I will have scope to apply my findings within my own practice and to continue my own learning and development as a practitioner as well as a student. Furthermore, the concepts of learning and application of visual art, are areas of the field which I find stimulating and will therefore challenge my own approaches to researching the areas more thoroughly than in my previous inquiry. A BRIEF STATEMENT OF YOUR PERSONAL INTERESTS (Make the link between the personal and professional and establish your interest in researching this topic and how you will maintain momentum for the next six months on this interest. This section should be about 100 words.) As a trained and practicing artist I have a firm grounding in the arts as well as broad experience of delivery of arts in a community context. As a visual communicator, I have adapted my learning styles in every context to fit my visual language. By translating new concepts into visual forms in my mind I am able to understand and push through “white noise” states of learning. My interest lies in sharing my approaches to learning with young people who may struggle in formal education settings despite their abilities to learn successfully in other contexts. I will maintain my momentum in this inquiry by my thirst to learn around this concept, I will seek to connect my own theories to those existing concepts. I am eager to pull apart existing theories and remould them, demonstrating the inter-connectedness of CLD, learning and art. I am drawing mainly from sources which inspire me and regularly ignite new was of thinking, thus I will remain stimulated throughout my inquiry. A STATEMENT THAT YOU HAVE ADDRESSED ETHICAL CONCERNS
  38. 38. 38 (This statement needs to show that you are aware of the fieldwork gathering parameters and that you have sought and gained approval from you agency for any information-gathering) I am conscious of the ethical considerations around my inquiry. I have sought permission from my employer and will adhere to University of Dundee’s ethical policies, completing an ethics pro forma. I will carry out this inquiry with the written permission of participants, or the consent of their parents if under 16 years of age. I will take care to ensure I carry out my research with CLD principles and values at the centre, as this is the context of my inquiry. I will protect the anonymity of participants should they wish to remain unidentifiable and will take this into consideration when sharing and / or transporting data, adhering to data protection requirements. I will take care to discuss preferences of learning contexts while taking care to respect the place of formal and alternative learning settings. MAKING A START (Here tell us about what you have done so far to get started and the steps you have taken – or intend to take soon – towards exploring the topic. Attach a list that is properly referenced of the works you have consulted to date – these should be balanced between government/local authority reports and academic research.) To date I have read around my topic, examining a range of sources including existing research, current areas of policy and academic theories. My sources are as follows: Theory Atkinson, D and Dash, P (2005) Social and Critical Practices in Art Education, Staffordshire, Trentham Books Denscombe, M (2010) Ground Rules for Social Research, Berkshire, McGraw - Hill Ledwith,M and Springett, J (2010) Participatory Practice, Bristol, The Policy Press Lewis, R and Paine, N (1985) How to Communicate with the Learner, Huddersfield, CET Policy Scottish Government (2009), Curriculum for Excellence; Expressive Arts, Edinburgh Scottish Government (2009) Valuing Young People. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government Existing Research Access Art (20090 SKETCH Books in Schools Report, online, Access Art Jones, Julie and Find Your Talent(2002), How can teachers move away from a didactic model of teaching and move towards working alongside young people as co-constructors of their learning? , Telford and Wrekin Council I intend to read more widely around models of learning, CLD principles and values, Community Art theories and current policy on art and education in Scotland.
  39. 39. 39 My international perspective will be from America, where art programmes are run by the Guggenheim museum to develop critical thinking skills. I will relate this to my own inquiry.
  40. 40. 40 Inquiry Proposal Feedback Student Name: Kate Carmichael Matriculation number: 050009541 Approved with conditions You have addressed, the main, issues raised in the original feedback. You have stated how you are going to go about ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of the participants i.e. by using the recordings only for the purposes of your research. You may have also acknowledged this in your ethics form. I think you could have explained further the practical actions you are going to take to prevent any of the participant’s identities being known on film etc. You have acknowledged the argument of bias in your interpretation of the literature, findings, etc. You have clarified the methods you intend to use in your research and methods of data collection you are using e.g. 1:1 interviews, focus group, etc and acknowledged the importance of triangulation. You also indicate how many participants you intend to involve in your research and demonstrate that you understand how to carry out a small scale inquiry. I still think you could gone into why you chose these methods/ methodology in more depth. You have included a reference to your international perspective. Your proposal has been approved with minor conditions which mean you can proceed to gather your data. Signed: Gary Roberts Inquiry Tutor Date: 10 August 2010
  41. 41. 41 School Research Ethics Approval Form Title of research project: Wax on Wax off: Using the visual arts as a vehicle for literacy development. Example Item Yes/No? Consideration Given/Action Required 1 Refer potential participants, sponsors, funders and other stakeholders to this Code. Yes Make reference to this Code in Participants Information Sheet A General Item Yes/No? Consideration Given/Action Required 1 Refer potential participants, sponsors, funders and other stakeholders to this Code. Yes Will include copy as part of information provided to participants. 2 Respect cultural, religious, linguistic, nationality, colour, political, social class, age, disability, gender, sexual and other differences. Yes Will consider diversity within session content. 3 Avoid potential physical or mental harm (greater than in their ordinary life) to or unfair enhancement of the welfare of all participants, the system in which they function, or other stakeholders. This particularly applies to participants who are young, disadvantaged, vulnerable or oppressed or have exceptional needs. Yes Stirling Council Health and Safety and COSHH requirements will be adhered to. Participants will be supported in a safe environment. 4 Avoid conflicts of interest or relationship, and do not abuse or exploit any differential in trust, power or status arising from research activities or findings, for any purpose, including inducing people to participate. Yes Will ensure fairness and equity in approach, respecting participant’s right to choose to take part or not to take part. 5 Avoid damaging or unfairly enhancing public confidence in researchers or related professions. Yes Will adhere to Stirling Council, University of Dundee and Cosla ethical standards equally. 6 Maintain high standards of physical and psychological safety for participants and researchers in the use of procedures and equipment. Yes Stirling Council Health and Safety and COSHH requirements will be adhered to. Participants will be supported in a safe environment. 7 Comply with legislation on human rights, publication, copyright, libel and data protection. Yes Information will be recorded accurately, and stored and transported safely. 8 Clear a criminal records check before you have contact with children or young people (see Yes I am disclosed by both the University and my employer for the purpose of my intended work. 9 Encourage other researchers to re-evaluate their procedures if you believe they are acting unethically. If this persists, take allegations of misconduct to the appropriate authorities. Yes B Recruitment and Consents
  42. 42. 42 C Confidentiality and Data Protection Item Yes/No? Consideration Given/Action Required 1 Preserve the confidentiality of all forms of data (including photographic data, audio and video recordings) to protect the privacy of individuals or organisations, unless appropriate permissions are given. Prevent unauthorised access to personal data and accidental loss or damage. Remember that incompetence is not an excuse in law ( Yes I will adhere to data protection requirements. 2 Ensure that data remain personally identifiable only as long as is necessary in the interests of those to whom they refer. Yes 3 Record only data relevant, adequate and not excessive for the current purpose of the research. Yes 4 Use no data given for one purpose for a different purpose without the explicit permission of the participant. Yes 5 Inform participants of the boundaries of confidentiality realistically available, including that such data do not enjoy legal privilege and the extent to which data might be shared between collaborators (who must also be clear about the boundaries of confidentiality). Yes Will agree group rules of confidentiality and respect. 6 Inform appropriate third parties without the prior consent of the participant only where there is evidence to raise serious concern about the safety of participants or others who may be threatened by the participant's behaviour, and only after consultation with senior researchers (unless the delay caused by seeking this advice would involve a significant risk to life or health). Yes Where there is a risk to myself or participants, appropriate third parties will be notified. Item Yes/No? Consideration Given/Action Required 1 Identify yourself and your host institution (e.g. University of Dundee), and make clear the limits of your competence and supervision. Yes This will be made clear to participants. 2 For any activity not usual or normal for the intended participants obtain informed consent by informing them clearly about the aims, purposes, methods and likely dissemination of findings of the research and of any potential harmful consequences for participants, and obtain their voluntary informed consent to participate (via their signing a consent form readily comprehensible to them, or other valid evidence, retained by the researcher). Yes Activity is usual and normal for participants. Will make clear to participants the additional element of data gathering. 3 Recognise and uphold the rights of those whose capacity to give valid consent may be diminished, e.g. the young, those with learning disabilities, the elderly, and those in an institution. Yes 4 Obtain informed consents at all relevant systemic levels: e.g. local authority, school (head teacher), class teacher, the individual child participant, and by parent(s) if relevant according to the child/young persons wishes (child = < 16 years). Yes 5 Obtain positively affirmed consent for a specified time period and activity – it cannot be inferred from a lack of response. Yes Will clearly advise permission is for participation in specific workshops and interviews, stating dates and times. 6 Withhold information only when it is unequivocally necessary for objectivity, where no alternative procedure is available, where it is unlikely that participants will be displeased once made aware, and with the agreement of senior researchers. Yes 7 Make no exaggerated or unjustifiable claims for the effectiveness of methods or materials. Yes Will use transcription and refer to video footage in claims. 8 Make no implication that access to services may be affected by or dependent on participation in research. Yes Paricipation is voluntary, non participation non consequential. 9 Respect the privacy and well-being of persons observed, obtaining consent except where those observed would normally expect to be observed by professionals. Yes 10 Make clear to participants their right to withdraw from the research at any time. Regard persistent avoidance as evidence of such withdrawal and termination of consent. Yes
  43. 43. 43 7 Advise potential participants with a combination of attributes which make them readily identifiable that it could be difficult to disguise their identity completely. Yes 8 Make clear how participants will be able to see their own data, dispute it if necessary, alter content, withdraw and destroy data, provide additional data or add to interpretations, at any time. Yes 9 Advise participants of data retention and disposal policies and practices, with time scales and any firm intentions regarding later processing. Yes 10 Validate data (including secondary data) as accurate and keep it up-to-date. Yes 11 Transfer no data to countries outside the European Union not governed by data protection legislation. If the country is not governed by data protection legislation, please discuss with your Supervisor/School Research Committee Yes D Debriefing Item Yes/No? Consideration Given/Action Required 1 Inform participants of procedures and means for contacting the researcher within a reasonable time period following participation should stress, potential harm, or related questions or concern arise. Yes A follow up date will be scheduled within planning. Participants will be offered contact details to get in touch with any queries following their participation. 2 Discuss with participants their experience of the research, to monitor any unforeseen misconceptions or negative effects such as stress or anxiety. This is particularly important with participants who may be especially vulnerable. Such debriefing does not justify any unethical aspects of any research project. Yes A de- brief both in group and individual participation will be included in the evaluation. 3 Provide participants with any additional information necessary to complete their understanding of the research after data have been collected YES 4 Inform a participant if you obtain evidence of psychological or physical problems of which they appear unaware, if you believe the participant’s future wellbeing may be endangered. Yes 5 Give no advice to participants unless this forms an intrinsic part of the research and has been agreed in advance. An appropriate source of professional advice may be recommended. Yes E Dissemination Item Relevant? Yes/No Action? 1 Clarify in advance with sponsors and funders the limitations, advantages and disadvantages of various data sources and methods of analysis, and any claim from them on intellectual property rights or profits. No 2 Tolerate no influence on research by external agencies which is clearly in pursuance of ulterior economic, political or other motives. Yes Will not be influenced by any agenda of the local authority host. 3 Make sponsorship publicly explicit, including disclaimers if required. No 4 Maximise the dissemination of information to continuously enhance the accuracy, comprehensiveness and replicability of findings. No 5 Accept no restrictions on publication by default, e.g. by failure to answer requests for permission to publish or undue delay. No 6 Report research design, instruments, procedures, analyses and results accurately and in sufficient detail to allow other researchers to understand, interpret and replicate them. Yes A detailed session plan will be included as an appendice. 7 Report findings accurately, truthfully and completely, excluding or acknowledging any bias or conflict of interest. Do not fabricate, falsify or misrepresent evidence, data, findings, or conclusions. No 8 Communicate findings and their practical significance in No
  44. 44. 44 clear, straightforward, and appropriate language to relevant research populations, institutional representatives and other stakeholders. 9 Point out if your findings are misused by others, publicly dissociating yourself if necessary. No 10 Acknowledge the limits of available evidence when giving advice. No 11 Claim no credit for the research and intellectual property of others. No 12 Determine authorship on the basis that all those contributing substantially to the research are listed, in relation to relative contributions in leadership, creativity and effort expended, with their consent. No 13 Give due credit to collaborators, acknowledging less substantial contributions to the research. No We, the undersigned, have considered all the requirements of the School’s Research Ethics Code of Practice and will strive to comply with those relevant to the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of this research project. (All researchers and supervisors must sign and the original must be held secure. Each signatory should retain a copy. Participants may be given a copy). Signed: _____________________________ (Student) Name: __________________________________ Date: _________ Signed: _____________________________ (Co-researcher) Name: __________________________________ Date: ________ Signed: _____________________________ (Co-researcher) Name: __________________________________ Date: ________ Signed: _____________________________ (Tutor) Name: _________________________________ Date: _________
  45. 45. 45 Consent form for Participation in Research Inquiry: Art for Literacy’s Sake On 19/11/10 I (print name) _____________________________________________ Hereby consent to participation in a focus group practical art workshop and individual interview. I understand that any data gathered may be published in an academic research paper. I consent to be the subject of photography and / or sound recording and understand that I will not be identifiable and my privacy will be protected by the researcher of the paper. Signed (Participant) __________________________________________________ Signed (Researcher) _________________________________________________
  46. 46. 46 To: lynn hayden < ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Katie Carmichael <> Date: Sun, Nov 28, 2010 at 6:53 PM Subject: >, Art for Literacy’s Sake: Interview Hello As we chatted about last week, here is the interview re Life Skill's programme involvement in my research into the use of art as a vehicle for literacy development in young people. There are questions specifically on our focus group at the YT Club and general questions about your practice. Could you type your answers in below each question, be as detailed as you wish, and return to me? Or alternatively handwrite - whichever "vehicle" you prefer! Thank you for your participation! 1. What do you think the young people got from the session? The chance to express themselves, share something of themselves in a subtle way, show off their musical tastes - talk in a non-eye-contact close situation. Do something new. 2. What were the benefits of the session in general?
  47. 47. 47 Hidden literacies and the chance to do a fun activity that met several of our priorities and needs of young people (IT, art, planning and organisation). One yp in particular was experiencing chaos in her home life but she felt safe to remain with the session and was distracted by the activity. 2.Why is the approach taken by the researcher helpful / unhelpful in your practice? It strongly addresses the need of individuals, and combines several varying skills allowing yp to build on their strengths but develop new skills - recognises that learning can be delivered in several, fun ways 3. What, if anything surprised you about the young people's level of participation, collectively and individually? Participation from individuals who have generally been quite 'closed' began sharing and displayed open behaviour and the conversation between the small group was relaxed 4. The session was slotted in to the Fun Friday session. What is the usual purpose of Fun Fridays? To try something new, experience new challenges and work in a relaxed group 5. What did you, as a practitioner, gain from the session?
  48. 48. 48 Reminder that we as professionals need to view all ways of delivery not just obvious wksps and standard styles. 6. What did you gain as an individual from the experience? Chance to get to know the yp from a new angle - to understand them more and a piece of art for my bedroom wall! 7. Any other comments / queries? Brilliant session, delivered in such a relaxed laid back way - fun, the participants loved it and fed back so.
  49. 49. 49 Art for Literacy’s Sake: Practical Focus Group (Transcript) November 19 2010 YT Club Cultenhove, Stirling 10.00 – 12.00. Individuals’ names are substituted by code letters and distinguished in type by colour coding. Participants referred to by letters (A, B and C) in blue text, member of staff as ‘W’ (worker) in violet and myself ‘R’ (researcher) in green. R: Does music make a difference to you? Is there a song that has an effect on you?Like – a song that can make or break your day? It happens to me when I hear James Blunt. Ruins my day. W: Yeah I know what you mean. A song on the radio is enough to make your day good or bad. C: Yeah I know what you’re talking about. R: What are you thinking of, C? What music do you like? C: Reggae! And Rap! Bob Marley and Eminem and 50 Cent! R: O cool. I like Eminem. W: Bob Marley? Really?That’s interesting. You have charges for racism don’t you? What do you think of Bob Marley? C: That’s different. Cause. He, like. Has good songs an’ that. R: (To A) : What about you, A. What are you into? W: You mentioned liking NdubZ last week. A: O I dunno….. C: They’re good. A: Aye, I do like them. W: What can music do for you? Do you listen to it as a chill out? Or a way to motivate you?
  50. 50. 50 A: It chills me when I’m crabbit. I just stick in ma heid phones an’ that. R: So do you guys have songs that bring back a strong memory or feeling? (Giggling from A and C) A: No way, man! W: You’re smiling. Does that mean there is something? R: You don’t have to share what the meaning is, but I’d be interested to know the song? A: No way. It just reminds me of a night A bad night. W: Does the song make you feel bad? A: Nuh. It wisnae bad that way. It makes me laugh. I just done a bad thing. O my god. I’m not saying what…. The song’s about sex but it’s nothing to do with that. It was just playing the night I took something I shouldnae uv. It was bad but that song just takes me right back to it. W: Intriguing! R: Isn’t it amazing how a song can bring memories back to you like that, give you the same feelings as the time you remember? A: aye C: (laughs) R: What about you, C. You said… Bob Marley? Is that special to you? C: Nah no really. R: Do you have a song that’s special to you? Maybe something romantic, a song you and (girlfriend) have? C: Nuh. Nuh. I’m no like that.I like Bob Marley! It makes me have energy. Like to go to the gym. Makes me want to go to the gym, makes me feel … good! R: Wow. That’s pretty interesting. So that music makes you feel energetic? C: Aye!
  51. 51. 51 W: Yeah I get that… Reggae makes me want to move. C: Yeah! You think that too?! W: Aw yeah – totally. R: Hmmm – songs do have strange power I suppose… W: Yeah they can definitely be meaningful. Like when couples pick a first dance for their wedding. (laughter) R: Ok let’s go through to the PCs, we’ll get the lyrics for our chosen songs. {Knock at door) (A and C pick songs each.and play them on You Tube website for R and W to hear. They Search, download, copy, paste, edit, and print the lyrics with no assistance required. B has trouble deciding between 2 songs. A: This one, right, is the one that means something to be but the other one is just a really guid song and I like it. I like Pixie Lott just coz it chills me oot. R: I would go with whatever song means most to you… A: I diny ken, I feel funny aboot it…Right I’ll pick this one. R: Great. We’ve got our songs. Come round the table again…. … Participant B joins the group following a one to one intervention from the worker. THe worker informs me C has had a difficult morning but wants to join the session…. R: Is anyone up for sharing why their song is meaningful? C: Makes me happy! A: No. W: Yeah mine makes me happy too. Reminds me of dncing in the kitchen with my mum and dad. We were that kind of family. I picked Andy William’s Song I Love You, Baby.
  52. 52. 52 R: You’ll maybe think this is cheesy. I picked a song called “Woman”, it’s old but I’m really enjoying listening to it just now… .. Ok. So when you hear your song, or look at the words. Tell me – what is the first colour that comes into your mind? C: Red! R: Yeah I’d pick that too for Bob Marley. With yellow and green. Do you know why I’m thinking that? C: Yeah. Coz it’s Bob Marley. Cannabis and that…… A: I’m saying pink for mine. R: Is that what you think of with the song? A: Aye. Naw. Well. Aye! The songs aboot pregnancy an’ that but that’s no why I picked it. It’s just the song that was playing. I just like it… R: Ok well pick your colour from the box over there, grab a roller and canvas and colour it like your song. A: I love this! (laughs) Love getting all mucky. W: Do you like art? A: I just like this. (period of no conversation) W: What’s up, C. ? C: Aaaah. I got it on ma claes! W: That’s because you’re siting down. Stand up and it’s easier to use the roller. Want me to help you? C: Aye. My jeans are painty. R: It washes out, it’s poster paint. It’ll be ok. C: I’m done anyway. I need to go. My drugs workers comin’ to pick me up. R: Ok, C. Thanks for taking part and coming along this morning. C: Its’allright.
  53. 53. 53 R: Will you give us some comments on the grafitti sheet? Just to know what you think. C: Aye. Can I dae it o’er here though? R: Yeah, great.Thanks. Everyone else will fill it in too if they’re up for it. A: Look at mine! It’s cool. All scratchy. What do we do now? R: Well, next we’re going to put the lyrics on the canvas. A: Whit do I need to cut out every single line? R: You can do this however you think is best. I’m just picking one or two favourite lines for mine. What do you want to do? A: I’m goin’ tae put big bits doon. R: Nice. While C’s scribbling and you’re being creative there, give me some feedback. I’m going to ask you some questions. B, I know you’re not doing the art work here but give us your thoughts too. What does literacy mean to you? What do you think of? A and C simultaneously: Boring! C: Being bored! R: How have you learned literacy in the past? A: School. Writing. Reading a book. Boring. R: C, what about you? C: Boring stuff. R: B? (no response) R: So, you know this has been a literacy session? A: Aye but this is all right like. R: What makes you come to sessions on (Progamme) then? A: Money! C: Aye money!
  54. 54. 54 W: What else? You can get money on benefits. Why come to the programme? B: The support you get here. W: O that’s good to hear. What does music do for you out of curiousity? Is it important in your life? B: I listen to the radio an’ that but I’ve no got favourite music. It’s a’ the same tae me.. R: Ok. Cool. What sometimes stops you coming to a session? I know you all sometime struggle to attend? B: Tired. Can’t be bothered. A: If I don’t think it’ll benefit me. R: Ah. So you look at your timetable and think – right I’ll not get anything out of that so there’s no point ? A: Aye exactly. C: That’s X here. See yas. Everyone: Bye R: So what did it say on your timetable for today? A: Fun Friday. We always have fun Fridays. So we know it’ll be something chilled and a laugh. R: O ok. So what if it said: Literacy session? A: I wouldnae come! I’d stay right aff! R: That would put you off coming? A: Aye! What do we do now? R: Ok. So think about your song. Can you hear it in your head? Hearing the words, and reading them, what pictures come into your mind? A: Laughs. O nuh. Nuh. R: Ok so do you have strong pictures in your mind? A: Naw just thinking aboot that night it reminds me of.
  55. 55. 55 R: Can you put into words what the images in your mind are? A: Naw I diny get any images. Nothin at all. I can hear the song but the inside of ma heid goes blank. Nah I diny get anything like that at a’. R: Ok, well by picking out one of the words randomly does it make you have an image? A: nah. Nothin at all. Nothin. R: Can I have a look at the words so I can see what I get? A: Aye. R: Right, yeah, it’s a hard one isn’t it. I see a scene but not really any symbols.. A: It’s aboot pregnancy. R: Ah! Right. Is that something you think about? A: Nah it’s no like that tae me. I just like the song.. R: Fair enough. I understand that. The word pregnancy puts images in my mind of. Well. A pregnant woman. Or a baby. Or you know, like a scan? A: Nuh. Nah. I like it like this. Can I just leave it like this? R: Yeah of course. It’s your piece. It’s actually really interesting to know that you don’t have any images when you think of your song. But you hear the music clearly in your mind? W: A is more audio than visual I would say… What about you, B. What does music mean to you at all? (no response) R: So, we were saying… is it better to learn reading, writing and communication on their own or through a task or project like we’re doing here? A: Project! B: I like writing. R: You prefer writing?
  56. 56. 56 B: It’s ok to read and write. I like doing thae thing. R: Do you think art is an enjoyable way to improve reading and writing and to learn about communication and knowing yourself? A: Yeah art. B: Depends what it is… W: What other places or circumstances have you done literacy learning? A and B: School. R: Ok that’s helpful to know. Thanks, guys. See on the table there is an evaluation sheet that C was putting his comments on. We’re going to leave the room and let you put down your own thoughts about the session. Would you do that? A: Aye bring it e’er here? R: So do you see how you’ve done literacy work today? A: Aye. Reading and computers and words stuff…. R: Yeah spot on. There’s ways to learn that are enjoyable. And we’ve used emotional literacy today as well, thinking about our feelings in relation to music and memories… A: Aye aye aye.
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