Visual Art as a Vehicle for Educational Research

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This article is an account of a pilot project designed to help art & design teachers in training use their particular strengths to report on classroom observation through visual art. The project is underpinned by the notion that the arts provide a particular way of knowing and that teaching should be student-centred. I argue that if the arts can be seen to be a particular way through which we can understand the world then they can be used as both a pedagogical tool and possibly a vehicle for collecting data and reporting research. A group of 19 student teachers of art & design were given tasks which involved reporting on their school placement experience via a visual art form rather than through a text-based form such as writing. The resulting images were discussed in a seminar and a sub-group of three students was purposely selected for interviews. It was found overall, the students valued the approach taken and that they gained valuable insights into their professional placements through adopting an art-based approach to educational research.

As a result, I advocate in this article a greater use of arts-based approaches to research which explores educational experience, not only in the arts, but in all areas of teaching and learning.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Senior Lecturer in the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education where he is course leader for PGCE Art & Design and Director of Studies for Art History for Homerton College.

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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