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Practice what you teach? Examining the significance and complexities of textile designer educator creative practice

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Learning to practice is central to undergraduate and the majority of taught postgraduate art and design programmes in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the creative practice of educators employed to teach, including part-time and visiting lecturers, has long been recognized as contributing to student learning. An emphasis on undertaking research has prompted educators, initially employed due to their expertise as creative practitioners, to formulate and adopt practice-led and practice-based approaches to research. The benefits of educator research to learning and teaching are also recognized. The higher education (HE) system is in a continual state of change, higher education institutions (HEIs) and educators respond to government policy and initiatives. Operating in the United Kingdom HE system together with pressures encountered can be counterproductive to educator creative practice. While research can involve creative practice activity there are issues, for example, with adoption of appropriate methodologies and difficulties with explicating tacit knowledge through writing. As a discipline, textile design exists on the periphery of design and design research discourse. The research project featured in this article responds to the context described and the deficit of literature surrounding contemporary textile design HE and educator creative practice and teaching linkages. The focus is on the textile designer educator role in the United Kingdom and examination of creative practice activity, to establish the means by which educator creative practice informs teaching and therefore influences student learning. The investigation used a combination of self-case study, survey, interview and case study methods. Findings indicate that textile designer educator creative practice is important to HE due to the positive impact that engagement has on teaching. However, issues are encountered and these are discussed in order to propose suggestions to improve the existent situation and to highlight areas for further investigation.
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Keywords: creative practice; creative practice-teaching linkages; designer educator; higher education; learning and teaching; textile design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Glasgow School of Art

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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  • How can art, design and communication aid teaching? Do these teaching methods work better in certain fields of study? Focusing on arts and media-based subjects, and encompassing all areas of higher education, this journal reveals the potential value of new educational styles and creative teaching methods.

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