Getting past the basics: strategies for fostering valuable learning in studio-based higher education settings with mixed experience student cohorts.

Al Munro and Erica Seccombe (ANU)
2017 Conference

In response to requirements for program flexibility and timetable changes within the university, the ANU School of Art & Design (SOAD) has opened many of its courses to students from other disciplines and faculties. This has given rise to larger class sizes and mixed ability groups, and has presented a number of challenges for traditional studio-based teaching practices. A notable change is the need for lecturers to devote a greater proportion of time to developing competencies in lower order cognitive and psycho-motor domains – for example finding the need to conduct repeat technical demonstrations – at the expense of higher order activities such as self-evaluation and critique of artworks, and, ultimately, the production of new or original works.

To address these challenges and ensure teaching can move beyond lower level learnings to address higher order understandings and abilities we are currently developing a set of teaching resources that provide for a broad range of practical experience within the student cohort. This development and testing has been supported by an ANU Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Enhancement Grant. Taking as a starting point the hierarchy of educational objectives presented in Krathwohl’s (2010) revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning, this paper discusses a case study set in a textiles printing class. This course is part of the Bachelor of Visual Arts Textiles first year course menu, but is also open to students from across the university as an elective without any prerequisite level of skill, knowledge or study. It is a popular course and always fills to capacity.

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About the author

Alison Munro is an early career researcher and artist currently lecturing in the Textiles Workshop of the ANU SOA+D. Her research has two broad streams: the relationship of scientific visualisations of the natural world to pattern and abstraction, and studio-based university teaching and learning. In relation to the latter, together with Dr Seccombe, Al is the current recipient of a Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Enhancement Grant to explore strategies to enhance learning among mixed experience cohorts (i.e. non-visual arts major students) within a studio-teaching setting. Al’s current art practice engages drawing, print and painting to explore the relationship of textile structures to Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry. Al is represented by May Space, Sydney.

Erica Seccombe convenes and lectures into the Figure & Life and Vision & Perception courses within the ANU SOA+D’s Foundation Workshop. She also lectures for ANU The Centre for Art History and Art Theory, and has convened the courses for Australian Modernism, Cyberculture and first year Art History. Erica is a visual artist based in Canberra. She was recently awarded the prestigious 2017 Capital Arts Patrons CAPO Fellowship. Her practice spans from traditional and photographic print media to experimental digital platforms using frontier scientific visualisation software. Erica completed her PhD in Photography and Media Arts in 2017. Her practice-led research project GROW: experiencing Nature in the Fifth Dimension investigates time-resolved (4D) micro-X-ray Computed Tomography through immersive stereoscopic digital projection installations and 3D printing.