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Breaking down barriers between theory
and practice: reflections on the use of
practice-based approaches to engage
students with theory in Contour Design
Julia Reeve
jreeve@dmu.ac.uk
East Midlands
Student feedback
East Midlands
‘Left feeling positive
about my topic and
excited to start writing.’
Overview
• Barriers
• Creative interventions
• Benefits
East Midlands
My background
• Studied Fashion Design
• Fashion practitioner
• Further Education lecturer
• HE Contextual Studies Lecturer
• Own barriers
• Student barriers
East Midlands
What are the barriers?
• FEAR
• Perceived relevance
• Expectations about A&D courses
• Identify themselves as Designers,
not Writers and Researchers
• Prior learning experiences
East Midlands
What is Writing PAD?
• Writing Purposefully in Art & Design:
• ‘Our aim is to encourage and share
different approaches to writing by
practitioners by offering its member
institutions a creative playground in
which to reflect upon ‘thinking-
through-writing.’
http://www.gold.ac.uk/writing-pad/
East Midlands
East Midlands Writing PAD Centre
• Our Manifesto:
• 'Linking theory and
practice through
creative teaching.’
East Midlands
http://writingpad.our.dmu.ac.uk/2015/10/
12/our-manifesto-linking-theory-and-
practice-through-creative-teaching/
Forming a bridge between theory & practice
Writing PAD Interventions
East Midlands
Contour Degree programme
• Specialised, vocational, intensive
East Midlands
Creative interventions: Year 1
East Midlands
Barrier
Not understanding
terminology associated
with theory
Intervention
Using the visual to
illustrate key terms
Benefit
Makes the abstract visible:
‘re-thinking learning as a
multimodal process’ (Jewitt
and Kress 2003: 17)
Visualising Terminology
Creative interventions: Year 1
East Midlands
Barrier
Research and writing for
theory assignments can
be seen as daunting,
lonely and irrelevant
Intervention
Make seminars more like
creative workshops.
Visual, tactile activities
incorporating peer learning
Benefit
New connections between
theory and practice can be
identified: 'having ideas
through the process of
making’ (Gauntlet 2011: 4)
Dissecting a Collection
Creative interventions: Year 1
East Midlands
Barrier
Not knowing where to
start with research for
theory assignments
Intervention
A stage by stage
interrogation of the topic,
using the materials and
environment of the studio
Benefit
Deeper engagement with
the topic
Forms a bridge into
research activities
Reframing Research
Creative interventions: Year 2
East Midlands
Barrier
Not knowing where to
start with identifying and
analysing texts
Intervention
Using the visual and
tactile to make texts
concrete
Using peer learning
Benefit
Defuses fears around the
use of academic texts
Highlights links between
existing and new knowledge Making the
visual textual
Creative interventions: Year 3
East Midlands
Barrier
Not seeing the way that
theory and practice can
enrich one another
Intervention
A visual, tactile workshop
where a theme for both
studio and theory final
assignments is explored
and developed
Benefit
New ideas and research
directions: ‘Reading and writing
are activities which require all
the senses, in varying
quantities, to make the work
truly alive’ (Francis 2009: 101)
Reframing
Research
Creative interventions: Year 3
East Midlands
Barrier
Difficulty in
communicating ideas for
theory assignments
Intervention
A mood board to support
the essay proposal
Benefit
Images spark tutorial
discussions
Tutors can better
understand student ideas
Essay Mood Boards
Student feedback
‘I found the Frame very useful. I will use it
again when developing my sketchbook ideas
in a more creative direction.’
‘I will use this technique for the development
of my essay and further project.’
‘Glad I came – developed more ideas on what
I am going to look at. Ideas for further
reading. Feeling more confident.’
‘Extremely useful, didn’t realise how many
ideas I had.’
East Midlands
Benefits
East Midlands
• A clearer understanding of the link
between theory and practice helps
students to develop:
• Creative exploration
• Collaborative working
• Reflection
• Communication
• Research
• Critical thinking
• Employability
Impact across the university and beyond…
• Art, Design & Humanities:
• Design Crafts, Fine Art, Dance…
• Other disciplines:
• Technology
• Biomedical Science
• Undergraduate & Postgraduate:
• Writing in Creative Practice for Researchers
• Writing PAD East Midlands:
• Forum
• Blog http://writingpad.our.dmu.ac.uk/
East Midlands
Overview
• Barriers
• Creative interventions
• Benefits
East Midlands
Reading
East Midlands
• English, F. (2011) Student Writing and Genre: Reconfiguring Academic Knowledge,
London, Bloomsbury
• Francis, P. (2009) Inspiring Writing in Art and Design: Taking a Line for a Write,
Bristol, Intellect Books
• Gauntlet, D. (2011), Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of Creativity, from
DIY and Knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0, Cambridge: Polity Press.
• James, A. and Brookfield, S. D. (2014), Engaging Imagination: Helping Students
become Creative and Reflective Thinkers, San Francisco, John Wiley & Sons.
• Jewitt, C. and Kress, G. (ed.) (2003), Multimodal Literacy (New Literacies and
Digital Epistemologies), New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
• Reeve, J. (2014) How can adopting the materials and environment of the studio
engage Art & Design students more deeply with research and writing? An
investigation into the Reframing Research technique, Journal of Writing in Creative
Practice, 7 (2) p. 267-281.
• Tactile Academia http://tactileacademia,wordpress.com
• Writing PAD http://writing-pad.org
Thanks for listening
East Midlands
Questions?

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HEA Inspire March 2016 Julia Reeve DMU/East Midlands Writing PAD Centre

  • 1. Breaking down barriers between theory and practice: reflections on the use of practice-based approaches to engage students with theory in Contour Design Julia Reeve jreeve@dmu.ac.uk East Midlands
  • 2. Student feedback East Midlands ‘Left feeling positive about my topic and excited to start writing.’
  • 3. Overview • Barriers • Creative interventions • Benefits East Midlands
  • 4. My background • Studied Fashion Design • Fashion practitioner • Further Education lecturer • HE Contextual Studies Lecturer • Own barriers • Student barriers East Midlands
  • 5. What are the barriers? • FEAR • Perceived relevance • Expectations about A&D courses • Identify themselves as Designers, not Writers and Researchers • Prior learning experiences East Midlands
  • 6. What is Writing PAD? • Writing Purposefully in Art & Design: • ‘Our aim is to encourage and share different approaches to writing by practitioners by offering its member institutions a creative playground in which to reflect upon ‘thinking- through-writing.’ http://www.gold.ac.uk/writing-pad/ East Midlands
  • 7. East Midlands Writing PAD Centre • Our Manifesto: • 'Linking theory and practice through creative teaching.’ East Midlands http://writingpad.our.dmu.ac.uk/2015/10/ 12/our-manifesto-linking-theory-and- practice-through-creative-teaching/
  • 8. Forming a bridge between theory & practice Writing PAD Interventions East Midlands
  • 9. Contour Degree programme • Specialised, vocational, intensive East Midlands
  • 10. Creative interventions: Year 1 East Midlands Barrier Not understanding terminology associated with theory Intervention Using the visual to illustrate key terms Benefit Makes the abstract visible: ‘re-thinking learning as a multimodal process’ (Jewitt and Kress 2003: 17) Visualising Terminology
  • 11. Creative interventions: Year 1 East Midlands Barrier Research and writing for theory assignments can be seen as daunting, lonely and irrelevant Intervention Make seminars more like creative workshops. Visual, tactile activities incorporating peer learning Benefit New connections between theory and practice can be identified: 'having ideas through the process of making’ (Gauntlet 2011: 4) Dissecting a Collection
  • 12. Creative interventions: Year 1 East Midlands Barrier Not knowing where to start with research for theory assignments Intervention A stage by stage interrogation of the topic, using the materials and environment of the studio Benefit Deeper engagement with the topic Forms a bridge into research activities Reframing Research
  • 13. Creative interventions: Year 2 East Midlands Barrier Not knowing where to start with identifying and analysing texts Intervention Using the visual and tactile to make texts concrete Using peer learning Benefit Defuses fears around the use of academic texts Highlights links between existing and new knowledge Making the visual textual
  • 14. Creative interventions: Year 3 East Midlands Barrier Not seeing the way that theory and practice can enrich one another Intervention A visual, tactile workshop where a theme for both studio and theory final assignments is explored and developed Benefit New ideas and research directions: ‘Reading and writing are activities which require all the senses, in varying quantities, to make the work truly alive’ (Francis 2009: 101) Reframing Research
  • 15. Creative interventions: Year 3 East Midlands Barrier Difficulty in communicating ideas for theory assignments Intervention A mood board to support the essay proposal Benefit Images spark tutorial discussions Tutors can better understand student ideas Essay Mood Boards
  • 16. Student feedback ‘I found the Frame very useful. I will use it again when developing my sketchbook ideas in a more creative direction.’ ‘I will use this technique for the development of my essay and further project.’ ‘Glad I came – developed more ideas on what I am going to look at. Ideas for further reading. Feeling more confident.’ ‘Extremely useful, didn’t realise how many ideas I had.’ East Midlands
  • 17. Benefits East Midlands • A clearer understanding of the link between theory and practice helps students to develop: • Creative exploration • Collaborative working • Reflection • Communication • Research • Critical thinking • Employability
  • 18. Impact across the university and beyond… • Art, Design & Humanities: • Design Crafts, Fine Art, Dance… • Other disciplines: • Technology • Biomedical Science • Undergraduate & Postgraduate: • Writing in Creative Practice for Researchers • Writing PAD East Midlands: • Forum • Blog http://writingpad.our.dmu.ac.uk/ East Midlands
  • 19. Overview • Barriers • Creative interventions • Benefits East Midlands
  • 20. Reading East Midlands • English, F. (2011) Student Writing and Genre: Reconfiguring Academic Knowledge, London, Bloomsbury • Francis, P. (2009) Inspiring Writing in Art and Design: Taking a Line for a Write, Bristol, Intellect Books • Gauntlet, D. (2011), Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of Creativity, from DIY and Knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0, Cambridge: Polity Press. • James, A. and Brookfield, S. D. (2014), Engaging Imagination: Helping Students become Creative and Reflective Thinkers, San Francisco, John Wiley & Sons. • Jewitt, C. and Kress, G. (ed.) (2003), Multimodal Literacy (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies), New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. • Reeve, J. (2014) How can adopting the materials and environment of the studio engage Art & Design students more deeply with research and writing? An investigation into the Reframing Research technique, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 7 (2) p. 267-281. • Tactile Academia http://tactileacademia,wordpress.com • Writing PAD http://writing-pad.org
  • 21. Thanks for listening East Midlands Questions?