Is there a variance in information retention and engagement, when teaching a practical skill to a creative individual, between using either a technically led or creative, teacher led approach?
With an educational background in Fine Art and a general interest within the creative field, my teaching and academic focus has always been centred on aesthetic led subjects, from fine art to interior design and illustration, to name a few examples. Through my own experience as a fine art student I have gained a general realisation of the breakdown between the practical and more academic subjects within the arts. This division consisted of the academic, theoretical part of the teaching being profoundly separate from the practical, fabrication side. It was this division that I felt created an unhealthy environment for my own creative development and meant a focus on the more practical, without the knowledge of how these decisions had their own aesthetic and theoretical nuances.
After my education I gained a position teaching within a technical capacity. During this time I began to understand my educational shortfalls through personally reflecting my taught aesthetic and critical consideration, against the learners that I engaged with. Gradually I developed a teaching approach which supported theses aesthetic and theoretical notions. This enabled me to teach the practical in a more cohesive and positive creative environment. The feedback I gained when applying this style of teaching was positive, both from the further educational learners and academic staff.
After this technical position I gained a place on the post graduate certificate of education. After the initial year I began to understand many of the basic teaching skills I had been using, such as activating the student’s schemata and working with Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory. Along with this I followed a more academic approach through conversations on aesthetics and other theoretical artistic concepts, areas I began to develop through the tutorial placement I was within. This change, from a technical to a more academic role, made me realise that there was a minimal difference between both of my approaches, as a technician, and my current one as an academic, a realisation clearly worded by Brookfield:
“something happens that forces teachers to confront the possibility that they may be working with assumptions that don’t really fit their situations. Recognizing the discrepancy between what is and what should be is often the beginning of the critical journey.” (Brookfield, 1995, p29)
It was the creatively led, teacher approach, which supported the learners practically whilst utilising open ended, subject specific, theoretically discussions, which I wished to examine within this research project. This role, which I believe is highly beneficial to the creative process, works in comparison to the more ‘traditional’, technically led approach, which utilises certain teaching techniques, but is less, subject specific. Placing this concept into an action research model, I formed a project which analysed how effective both of these approaches were, in information retention and practical engagement, whilst utilising a ‘learning cycle’ (Bell and Waters, 2014), to further develop the areas that I could utilise to support the learner.
Along with these more basic, relevant teaching processes, my initial research looked at understanding how the creative process is understood and developed by the learner. With titles such as ‘Unpacking Creativity’ by Kerrie Unsworth (2001) and ‘The Sources of Innovation and Creativity’ by Karlyn Adams (2005), I found a range of research which developed my personal notions towards the creative industry. Developing this research further I looked at certain, creatively led teaching techniques, analysing areas to that were important and effective towards educationally supporting creative individuals (Amabile, 2012). Looking to understand these areas further I also sourced literature concerning the psychological ramifications of being a creative individual and how this effects engagement with the different teaching techniques.
To gain an understanding of the current taught, technically led model, I also researched into vocational pedagogy. Initially sourcing academic papers that discussed this theoretical division, between the theory and practical understandings within the arts, I found literature which placed this into an educational perspective. More specifically it discussed areas that required the better use of teaching theory, along with the negative ramifications concerning the division, between the practical and the theoretical.
The literature and data required to gain an informed understanding of this subject was quite substantial. Establishing an organisational system I utilised a diary format to keep track of the literature, formulated a methodology based on this information and then collected and analysed the data. With all of this information in place I attempted to clearly and concisely analyse the creative, teacher led approach I have been utilising. I believe this data gave me a good position to compare this information against the course literature, ideally supporting some change to the current teaching process.
On a personal level the overall results allowed me to develop my methods and formulate an informed practical teaching process. I believe that this more holistic approach, combining both practical and theoretical teaching techniques, better supports the creative process for my students.
Initial research into my question of ‘information retention and engagement, when teaching a practical skill to a creative individual, between using either a technically led or creative, teacher led approach’, returned no support from the literature. Deconstructing the title down, I began to find a vast amount of research into several areas which would construct a framework to base my overall research project upon. As well as more general teaching techniques and vocationally led written work, which I will discuss throughout, I also researched in depth, into creative led literature. In an attempt to keep a level of clarity I grouped this subject led literature into three manageable titles: Influences of Knowledge on the Creative Process, Understanding Creative Individuals and Creative Teaching Techniques. Throughout this review I developed my understanding within these subjects consecutively, engaging my knowledge of broader and vocationally led techniques throughout and explaining their influences upon each other, as well as disagreements and gaps within all of this information.
Creativity has been defined as a “novel or appropriate response, product, or solution to an open ended task.” (Amabile, 2012, p.1) I began to build an understanding of how knowledge influenced the creative process, which became my first sub-division. This area of study is the foundation of teaching specific skills to creative individuals and how this information is brought upon a problem (Adams, 2005). This application of knowledge is well explored, with one of the main developers being Howard Gardner who suggests:
“the best profile for creativity is the T-shaped mind, with a breadth of understanding across multiple disciplines and one or two areas of in-depth expertise” (Adams, 2005, p.5)
Also mentioned in this literature is ‘The Midici Effect’, which supports Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Pritchard, 2014) and builds upon it with broad historical data and specific modern examples. These examples conclude that these disciplines define an ‘Intersection’, which Johansson defines as: “an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas.” (Johansson, 2006, p.2)
These theories construct a framework for my personal attitude towards the ‘Influences of Knowledge on the Creative Process’, were the ‘breadth of understanding’ (Adams, 2005), works to seed ideas which allow the individual to expand upon. This research project builds upon my own experience and opinions along with literature, that more importance should be placed onto the teaching of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, in a more balanced creative way within art and design, rather than the dominant theory focused teaching program of critical thinking and aesthetic concepts (Zakaria, 2015).This theoretically dominant teaching structure, within the creative subjects, is something that I believe is out of balance with the creative process. It appears that this imbalance was developed partly in response to a changed notion of art. As new scientific concepts such as optics, colour theory, anatomy, as a few examples, were absorbed, theoretical knowledge became increasingly important (Busch, 2009). Also due to budget restraints within most educational environments (Wolf, 2011), creating more centralised, less subject specific workshops, general knowledge specificity (Centina, 2007) and difficulties in analysing such a subjective area of study within education (Unsworth, 2001), theoretical engagement became more important within art education. From my understanding of the creative process I believe more importance should be given to the teaching of practical skills, constructing a framework between expertise, creative-thinking skills and motivation (Adams, 2005). This breakdown between the theoretical and practical has also been realised, but through vocational comparisons, were the industry prefers to train the individual once in employment (Wolf, 2011), with the creative process failing within this framework.
With an understanding of the influences of knowledge, and in this case practical skills, on the creative process, I wanted to understand how to best apply this knowledge. ‘Understanding Creative Individuals’ has been explored from multiple angles over a long time period. Freud wrote about a temporary break in reality as necessary for creativity (Freud, 1925), meaning the removal or replacement of a physical or theoretical element, resultantly allowing a new perspective to be found. This psychoanalytical view found many arguments:
“Explanations of the creative process which depart from the orthodox Freudian view include Schachtel (1959) and Rank (1932). Kris (1952) emphasized “regression in the service of the ego,” and Kubie (1958) stressed the importance of the preconscious – material which can become conscious very easily and under conditions which frequently arise – in the creative process.” (Treffinger et al. 2011, p.11)
These views, of how creativity is expressed within the individuals mind, would be fairly hard to apply into a practical research project. Developing from this, in a more applicable way to my project, was a broad range of literature analysing artists’ personalities. Although most of this literature is based on professional, established individuals (Csikszentmihalyi and Getzels, 2014), there are some that analyse these traits against students at further education level. Although perspectives on these personality traits vary (Piirto, 2011), it appears that both the literature of professionals and the statistics of learners, defined by Cattell’s sixteen personality factors, have rough similarities, defined in one case study as being “asocial, introverted, amoral as defined by cultural norms, subjective, questioning and self-contained” (Csikszentmihalyi and Getzels, 2014 p.14).
These similarities define overall creative personality traits, which from my experience, frame the average personalities within creative individuals, with the main variance being seen in the sex and creative subject choice of the individual (Csikszentmihalyi and Getzels, 2014).
From my understanding this variance in personality type, sometimes varying in magnitude and other times selective, can be dependent on extrinsic constraints (Unsworth, 2001), intrinsic constraints (Keller-Mathers and Puccio, 2005) and environmental factors (Cetina, 2007). The broad nature of fine art as a subject means that this variance can be quite complicated to understand, so I began to look at teaching models which could best support the structure in which I teach.
These models were represented graphically and I discuss them here in the order in which I came across them, the first of which being Torrance’s Incubation Model. This model contains three basic stages that must occur within the creative time period, being ‘Heightened Anticipation’, ‘Deepening Expectation’ and the ‘Extension of Learning’ (Keller-Mathers and Murdock 2008). Within each of these processes there are behaviours to consider such as curiosity, desire of knowledge and being overwhelmed, as just a few examples. This model is more beneficial in respect to lesson planning, something which I will utilise in the future, so I continued researching to gain a broader spectrum of perspectives. The next model I came across represented “the social and psychological components necessary for an individual to produce creative work.” (Amabile, 2012, p.1) This visualisation is a complex flowchart, showing the development and influences involved to produce an outcome, allowing ideas to be placed within it and influencing lesson plans by understanding the process itself (Amabile, 2012). One of the subject relevant factors within this model is how the ‘Domain-Relevant Skills’ engage with the rest of the process. The practical process I am going to teach, for this research project, is what Amabile (2012) discusses as being influenced by the ‘Social Environment’, ‘Task Motivation’ and an ‘Increase or Decrease’ in motivation from the previous outcome. My personal understanding of this is that creativity is highly influenced by environmental and psychological factors, being a process of personal reinterpretation. This process is highly influenced by previous knowledge and experience, or schema, which develops through this new learnt skill to influence knowledge and ‘Response Algorithms’, or an application of these new notions. Within this model, Amabile (2012) concludes by mentioning, how through the generation of ideas, an object can be produced to ‘Test Response Possibilities Against Factual Knowledge’. Overall this model places new concepts and experiences at the centre of creativity, supporting my personal opinion that all knowledge towards creative individuals should be given in a subject specific manner.
Developing from these two models, I wanted to find one which placed the personality traits, previously mentioned, into something easier to understand. The main model in this field is the Piirto Pyramid, described as “a contextual framework that considers the 4 P’s of creativity – person, process and product as well as press, or environmental factors.” (Piirto, 2001, p.159) This model visually places genetics at the base of the pyramid, then builds upon the individual’s personality, cognitive aspects and talent, consecutively, overlooked by environmental, chance and gender, as just a few examples. Even though this model does not develop upon any of these ideas, it places all the previously mentioned notions into a visual structure, forming something easier to engage with.
Building upon the previous two sub-headings, I looked into the literature surrounding ‘Creative Teaching Techniques’. I began my research at the starting point of my own creative process and something which I find highly useful, with a potential to utilise in the lesson planning for these taught sessions, mind mapping:
“a creative conference for the sole purpose of producing a checklist of ideas which can subsequently be evaluated and further processed.” (Isaksen, 1998, p.4)
The simplest, although highly analysed, updated and developed model is Alex Osborn’s ‘Seven-Step Model for Creative Thinking’. Even though this is more of a framework than a set of teaching skills, there is a broad spectrum of uses to be gained, such as activating the learner’s schemata, creating a framework for the lesson or generally helping the individual or group when in a stale position within the creative process.
Broadly speaking and working with the previously mentioned taxonomy of creative thinking, Frank Williams (1969) formulated eight different levels of the creative thought processes. The descriptions underlining these levels could act as an “integral part of the lesson plan book to encourage consistent application of creative thinking tasks with any academic lesson.” (Schurr, 2000, p.63) In respect to constructing a lesson plan, the titles acted as a form of checklist, making sure that a plan includes all of these factors to create a well rounded lesson, discerning layers of meaning (Sandell, 2004). Expanding beyond this checklist and formed once again by Williams, is a more concise list to fall upon when constructing a lesson, called the inquiry-discovery learning experience. (Fasko, 2001)
More specifically with the practical application of my research project I looked into vocational pedagogies. My initial findings, found literature stating that:
“Teaching models are not yet established in vocational learning but the whole concept of teaching models could provide a powerful element in vocational teachers’ repertoire.” (Cooper et al. 2011 p.15)
Researching further, I found a paper written by City and Guilds, which opposed this comment whilst discussing one of the key elements of my research project. More specifically it describes a plethora of teaching models and a key area of creative teaching, critical thinking, “Critical thinking would seem to be a complex and under-explored area of vocational pedagogy.” (Lucas et al. 2012 p.26). These opinions on vocational pedagogies form a personal opinion, that basic educational models are utilised, but the required, more develop teaching skills, that support the creative process, are not utilised in practical environments.
Looking more specifically at the literature which supports the course in which I am undertaking this research project, I examined the course handbook and course specifications. The handbook, given to the learners at the start of the course, has a section on technical demonstrations, stating that:
“The amount and depth of such instruction will vary depending on the particular area and its needs, but the aim is also to ensure that all students have a level of technical knowledge and experience that is appropriate to their chosen discipline.” (SCCH and University of Brighton, 2016 p.11)
Although this could be argued that these demonstrations are relevant to more structured concepts of disciplines, such as sculpture and painting, the level of critical analysis within the studio would contradict this. More specifically the multidisciplinary approach I have experienced within tutorials, should place more emphasis on an open, less definitive approach (Freud, 1925), to technical demonstrations. My personal experience can also been seen within ‘learning outcomes’, contained within the program specifications:
“Our objective is to enable students to engage in the process of understanding, exploration, articulation; consolidating these through the creation of Fine Art texts and artefacts that combine personal language with its effective communication” (University of Brighton, Program Spec, 2016 p.5)
In conclusion, the literary research undertaken has found a broad range of information regarding, the psychology of creative individuals, the creative process itself and models to best support it from an educational perspective. In respect to vocational pedagogies there are different opinions as to the use of teaching models, but a general lack of information concerning the utilisation of teaching practical skills to influence the creative process. Placing this information into an action research context, I can formulate a method to analyse my research project question. Ideally finding the best techniques to maximise the learner’s ‘information retention and engagement’ within the overall educational framework, and ideally maximising their creative process in respect to this taught process.
My first consideration when looking at my research question, the ‘variance in engagement and information retention, when teaching a practical skill’, was the practical element. Due to the creative nature of this research project I wanted to find a practical process which was open ended, rather than a closed, finite one. Based on my previous experience, the most relevant one to this framework was vacuum forming, a thermoforming process. This process utilises a range of materials and has a good range of variables to grasp within an introduction. Along with the standard practical consideration there is a broad amount of flexibility, which I believe, if taught correctly, could influence the creative process.
During the time that I gained experience teaching the vacuum forming process, I witnessed other technicians, teaching in the more technically, means end method. This meant the use of basic teaching processes to demonstrate the process, show the materials and explain the health and safety concerns. Through learner and academic feedback, I gained the opinion that teaching in a creative manner was more conducive to the learners involved. It is this assumption that I wish to test and develop within this research project, testing the positives and negatives of both approaches, with the result being an informed method which maximises the student experience.
My first consideration was the practical ramifications of each introduction. The course itself attracts a broad range of ages, technical knowledge and personality types with a roughly equal male, female ratio, although with little ethnical and religious representation. To minimise bias in both qualitative and quantitative data gathered I decided to utilise a random selection method to divide the group, making small alterations to minimise any uneven weighted interest.
With the group divided, one was given the technical introduction and the other the more creatively led, open ended approach, developing both “convergent and divergent thinking” (Fasko, 2001). I generated a set of criteria to meet for each session, forming a consistent approach. The technically led lesson utilised basic vocationally led teaching skills (Lucas et al. 2012), informed by basic teaching theory to demonstrate the process, materials and discuss the health and safety considerations, modelling the more traditional method. The criteria for the teacher led, creative session, was generated from the rationale and lesson plan, consistent with the teaching framework. The rationale was initially influenced by similar teaching techniques as the technically led introduction, utilising theories such as multiple intelligences (Pritchard, 2014), the ‘Yerkes-Dodson’ curve (Clow and Dawn, 2007) and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Petty, 2009), as a few examples, and then utilised more subject orientated, creatively led, theory. This, more specific theory was discussed within the literary review, with certain key areas including Piirto’s Pyramid (Piirto, 2001), the Creative Mindset (Csikszentmihalyi and Getzels, 2014) and the Incubation Model (Keller-Mathers and Murdock, 2008), as a few examples. As this project developed, the rationale and lesson plan for the second sequence was influenced through the data, developing the research project in a cyclical manner (Denscombe, 2010).
It was important to this data that the individuals were unaware of the purpose of this project until the data was collected, as it is my belief that knowledge concerning the possibility of receiving a less creatively focused lesson could have biased the data. The variance could have manifested through attendance, attitude or a subconscious lack of attention. This process had ethical consideration, so to protect the education of the individual I repeated the creatively led session to the technically taught ones, information of which was given after data collection, minimising bias whilst protecting the individuals involved (Bell and Water, 2014).
After the first sequence, a week’s duration was left before data collection, forming an embedment period, minimising any direct recall and instead work with the information retained.
Due to my previous relationship with the learners, data was collected initially through an anonymous questionnaire, minimising any negative impact (Bell and Waters, 2014), something which the learners were informed of (Denscombe, 2010). This questionnaire produced mainly quantitative data, with a permission sentence at the bottom, ethically allowing me to use the information. It was firstly written to test each learner’s retained knowledge from the teaching session, developing in complexity as it progressed (Bell and Waters, 2014). It also looked at the individual’s concept of process, with certain questions attaining how they engaged with the session against their own creativity.
After an initial draft of the questionnaire I asked my Action Learning Set to examine it, and after a discussion, as to the information I was trying to attain, several alterations concerning the layout and wording, were made (McGill and Beatty, 1995). This resulted in a single page document, utilising multiple choice and numerical ordering, with aesthetic considerations (Gillham, 2004), and ordering the questions in a progressively complex manor:
“Take care over the order of the questions. Leave sensitive issues later in the questionnaire. Start with straightforward, easy-to-complete questions and move on to the more complex topics.” (Bell and Water, 2014 p.165)
Although most of the questionnaire gave me quantitative data, to gain qualitative data I also selected two individuals, from each session to perform interviews. The selection of these individuals was based on my knowledge of their personalities, selected to gain a broad perspective of each session. These semi-structured interviews (Denscombe, 2010), gained more developmental information, along with sourcing areas of improvement. These interviews were noted down, giving me a more detailed set of qualitative data, from which to develop my teaching methods.
Along with this learner centric view, I also gained feedback through the observation process. This perspective gave me both constructive and critical comments to validate my interpretation of the results, broadly giving me both qualitative and quantitative data from multiple perspectives to analyse. The quantitative data allowed me to plot the information retention trends, forming areas that required further focus, or a different approach. The mainly qualitative data, from the interviews allowed me to develop an understanding of the lesson from the learner’s perspective.
Upon the completion of the first sequence I gained a broad range of data. Initially from my perspective, these sessions went roughly as planned, although the individuals in session one were generally more positive than session two, possibly decreasing the variance between the data between the two groups. Interestingly the first group appeared to have more simple, less creative lines of enquiry than the second, who built upon their own creative process through the handout, and ask a much broader range of questions. This handout asked the learner to describe their own creative concerns with the process, working to vary their approach and change the pace of the session, clearly engaging with the Yerkes-Dodson curve (Clow and Dawn, 2007), overall increasing the group’s engagement, in comparison to their initial attitude.
After a one week interval I collected the quantitative data from seven individuals out of ten, who were given the induction. To place this information into a useable format I began by coding (Denscombe, 2010), with the resultant information shown in Table 1.
Table 1: showing sequence1
Through analysing these questionnaires I was made aware of one individual who did not complete it fully, which when calculating the average retention and placing the information in Graph 1, I omitted.
Graph 1: Showing sequence 1
When visualising the information, it became noticeable that there was an increase in retention within group two. Placing this variance into context, from twenty three potential answers, averagely four more questions were answered correctly within the second session over the first.
Looking closer at the data, I wanted to understand the distribution, so I took an average answer to each question and plotted both sessions, creating the graph below.
Graph 2: Showing sequence 1
Firstly by analysing the space between the plotted lines, I noticed that the maximum variance, in correct answers, was within question four and five. Placing this into context, the largest difference in retention, involved naming three thermoforming materials and placing the steps of the process in numerical order. Considering this I believe this difference reflected the utilisation of activating the second group’s schemata and instilling the relevance to their creative focuses. This engagement led to an average increase in their absorption of visual, process led information (Fasko, 2001), with certain comments being supported through the observation process.
Further to this is a lack of variance seen within question three, asking the learner to mark against the correct identifiers, showing the material is correctly heated and ready to be formed. Due to the second session involving a more supportive approach, I expected a higher variance between the two groups. Considering this against one of the feedback points from the observation, I believe this could do with an issue of class layout. More specifically, due to the sessions taking place within a workshop, the environment was not very conducive to altering, with the benches being difficult to move, so a minimal amount of changes were made. During the sessions themselves, I felt that this distance made the visual nature of the process more difficult to utilise, which was noticed by the observer and will alter in the subsequent sequence.
Outside of the comparative nature of this data, was also the realisation that the health and safety information, more specifically regarding heat, fume and cutting dangers, was not retained satisfactorily. Although this is quite a subjective opinion to make, I will look to place more focus upon this within the second sequence.
As stated, my methodology not only concerned quantitative data, but also qualitative, through a small interview. From three questions, placed to two individuals from each session, the information was quite constructive. In reply to the first question, asking what areas of the process they found interesting, all individuals found the fluid, less linear nature of the process interesting (Adams, 2005). The only difference seen from session two was a comment concerning “experimentation”. Personally I find this comment interesting, as it appears that the second session could have produced a less of a linear structure within the learners understanding, defined by Sternberg (1999) as the “ill-structured problem”. This way of understanding, allows a better level of creative control over it, allowing the learner to flexibly engage with the process.
The second question, asking if there were any areas they wished were discussed in more detail, was written to influence the second sequence of sessions,. One of the main comments concerned the materials being thermoformed, with a request for further information and labelling. Considering this comment, this labelling would better support the visual learner (Pritchard, 2014), giving a link between the material and the, often abstract, names. There were also several comments made concerning the final handout, informing me that an addition of a visual step by step, of the process, would have been beneficial. On reflection this further supports the visual learner (Pritchard, 2014), so was added onto the subsequent handout.
The final question asked whether, after the introduction, they were interested in developing their practical knowledge further. Both the learners from session one replied in reference to the skills, with one commenting that: “being a fine art student, you don’t get the skills”. This supports my opinion, on the lack of practical support given to fine art students. Finally an individual from the second group mentioned they were interested in general sculptural experimentation, wanting to increase their knowledge. This engagement, with attaining practical knowledge to develop their creative process, is a positive sign to the session.
The final piece of qualitative data was at the end of the questionnaire, asking how relevant to their own practice they found the session. This question was placed to understand whether a less defined, industry led approach, would relate to a broader group of people. Although the data received showed no difference between the two approaches, the informal feedback through conversations with the learners, did seem more engaged with a broader spectrum of individuals. Although this positive side is highly subjective, it personally felt more conducive to a creative framework (Adams, 2005).
As previously mentioned this sequence was observed, with several additional comments made, upon which I will reflect. The first main positive statement concerned my use of referring to the industry, within the second session. Initially I was not fully aware of how different the two approaches were, in respect to employability, but upon further reflection I realised the importance of this, and how it made a positive contribution to the level of engagement I felt from the second session. Supporting this further, Reece and Walker (2004) mention that, “The third main adult expectation is that the work is related to the vocation”. With this in mind I will make sure that subsequent sessions always contain this level, or more, of employability.
Although not constructive, another positive comment concerned a handout that I used, getting the learners to set their own engagement with the process, grounding the session in the individuals creativity (Adams, 2005). As this was a process that I had not previous used, it was a positive sign and something which noticeably reflected the benefits of the Yerkes-Dodson curve (Clow and Dawn, 2007), breaking up the session to form a more conducive environment to instil information.
One other observer comment concerned my own enthusiasm. This regarded my own attitude towards the second, more creatively led session, being more positive, which, according to the observer, could possibly form a bias in my data. Although this could possibly be difficult to address within the second sequence, I will attempt to minimise any variance within my own vocal range, gesticulation and general body language.
Moving forward with the second sequence I altered the subsequent rationale and lesson plan. Based on the feedback achieved, I included all of the original points and improved others. More specifically I altered the space for the learners to view the practical demonstration, wrote the names onto the appropriate materials, with a plan on discussing their properties in more depth.
Based on my concerns from the data around the health and safety side of the process, I will place more emphasis in this area, ideally reducing any risk. The final addition to the second sequence is an addition to the handout, adding a section visually describing the forming process.
As before, after a week’s interval I gained further data, coded it and placed into a similar table, the information of which can be seen in Graph 3.
Graph 3: Showing sequence 2
Once again I averaged out the answers and placed this into comparisons with the two sessions, seen in Graph 4.
Graph 4: Showing sequence 2
Although both of these graphs show a positive variance towards session two, the division is not as clear as the first sequence. Numerically speaking when comparing the average from session two in both sequences, there are similar levels of retention, although a drop off near the end. One of the main issues, that I believed created both the lack of variance and the ‘drop off’, was the time within the academic year, which also caused a problem with gaining time with the learners to perform the interviews. Despite this lack of data, I will continue, as before, and in a similar fashion to analyse the data.
My initial impression of this second session, within the second sequence, was that it did work better than the one in the first sequence, with the learners feeling more engaged and asking more complex, creatively informed questions (Adams, 2005). I also believe the approaches were more concise, minimising any bias I may have formed through my enthusiasm.
Firstly, analysing the space seen between the two sessions, there is a larger variance seen within question three, asking how to identify the material is correctly heated and ready to be formed and question six, asking the learner to list three situations in which you would utilise this process. In a highly subjective way, I believe this difference was based on activating the learner’s schema (Petty, 2009), visually, through previously formed props and creatively, when discussing the flexibility of the process.
The smallest variance was seen in questions one, two and four. Question one concerned identifying three dangers with the process, question two asked three things to consider with an object before forming and question four, naming three thermoforming materials. This lack of variance, as previously stated could have been due to the timing against the academic calendar. It could have also been due to the difference within the group or generally a truer representation of the process (Denscombe, 2010).
Outside of this, the qualitative data was difficult to source, resulting in only one interview, from the second session. Although this does not give me a good average reflection the detail does give me interesting areas to examine. Firstly, with question one, asking what they found interesting about the process, the learner was highly interesting in the casting potential. This could be utilised to show a better visual, of the potential process. Secondly, in response to question two, asking whether they would have wanted any further details within the introduction, they mentioned taking part in the physical element of the machine. This led to a discussion, informing them that this is not practical, forming a further comment. From their perspective, having more physical examples of the processes would have felt more involved. The application of this comment, by developing further process driven items, fits with my research of the creative mindset (Amabile, 2012), and is an area I will work to develop when considering the third sequence.
Similar to the first sequence, these two sessions were also observed. The feedback I gained was only positive, with the main comments already covered previously. Based on the quantitative data, showing a downward trend concerning the former and materials against the qualitative, discussing more visual aids I developed the third theoretical sequence of sessions.
This subsequent session would develop upon the first sequence, utilising the data from both. The result of which would be a broader use of visual aids (Pritchard, 2014), to show examples of different formed materials, processes and even pictures of more complex uses of the vacuum forming machine. These visual stimuli would place the previously discussed emphasis onto the lower trends seen, but in a manner that works differently, testing the learner support from a different perspective.
My initial proposal was to investigate the variance between two ways of teaching a practical process, a technical led or creative, teacher led approach. Through two sequences of two sessions I gained data through questionnaires and interviews, analysing the level of information retention and engagement between these two different teaching processes.
Before making any conclusions based on this collected data, I would like to make a few caveats. The information gained was through a small scale research project (Bell and Waters, 2014), which analysed sixteen individuals, who were currently undertaking a fine art degree. Through my initial research I was made aware of the complex creative process and the psychology of the individuals who explore these subjects (Csikszentmihalyi and Getzels, 2014). In respect of this complexity, a broader range of data would have made the information more reliable, including more individuals, a range of creative subjects and an array of educational levels.
Through the quantitative data gained from the two sequences, there is a distinct difference between the levels of retention. The level of variance was higher than my initial thoughts, when considering how creative individuals were best supported in their learning. This distinct difference does show, relatively clearly, how creative individuals engage to a higher degree when taught with their ‘Intelligence’ (Pritchard, 2014), in mind. Through the cyclical nature (Bell and Waters, 2014) of this research project, I have utilised the variance within this quantitative data, to best support the learners involved. More specifically, it has highlighted areas within the session which needed to be improved.
Although the qualitative data was more complicated to analyse, the level of the individuals involved were of a maturity that an open dialogue could be formed, a task which is clearly worded by Reece and Walker (2004), in which they state:
“Your task is to discover their preferences, to concentrate upon those that have been successful and transform those that have been unsuccessful.” (Reece and Walker. 2004 p.7)
The outcome of this engagement further developed the effectiveness of my approach to the creative, led session. More specifically, the learners highlighted how certain visual stimuli could further support them, whilst also signifying how they personally engaged with the process itself. The first point, being a more supportive one, was utilised more directly into my learning cycle through labelling materials and altering the handout, as just a few examples. The second part, how they engaged with the process, was generally more complex to analyse and place into the cycle (Denscombe, 2010). The reasoning behind this type of questioning was to understand how they absorbed the information into their own field of understanding (Adams, 2005). Through understanding the learners general thought processes; I placed certain theoretical sections of the session into context, working within certain subjective ways of understanding, or utilising the average schemata (Petty, 2009).
The subsequent sequence returned comparatively positive data in respect to both sessions. This data was not as defined as the first, possibly due to the time within the academic year, which could have also affected the downward trend towards the end of the questionnaire. Analysing this sequence constructively it developed my understanding that although the learners are creative; this creativity is a reinterpretation of their schema (Amabile, 2012). Placing this understanding into the theoretical third sequence I would utilise a broad range of visual props, which would support the group to understand, often abstract concepts.
The overall development of these sequences has produced useful information to develop from, but placing this into context, this is a small scale research project attempting to understand an area as broad and complex as creativity. With a larger group of individuals and a longer time scale, this project could develop into the basis of a more unified teaching experience.
This holistic way of teaching a practical skill is reflected within the student handbook and course specifications. Through both the quantitative and qualitative data, this approach appears more effective and is backed up by the literature discussing the creative process. The distinct difference between the theoretical and practical processes taught within Sussex Coast College, are a common division. From my research the conceptual division is based on historical factors with the physical practice, being based on financially decisions, centralised workshops (Wolf, 2011).
The overall findings gathered throughout this research project have placed a more defined perspective upon the ramifications of this division. Developing from this point and to give the learner this, holistic education requires a more unified teaching structure which reflects the academic and course specific literature. Which, although the course utilises sentences informed by the theory of creativity, in reality, the practice itself does not follow this mindset.
ADAMS, K (2005) The Sources of Innovation and Creativity. 1st Edition: National Centre on Education and the Economy
This paper represents a comprehensive summary of theories surrounding innovation and creativity. This quote concerning Howard Gardner is a summary by Karlyn Adams concerning his developed ideas concerning creativity. This theory contains a visual T-shaped image, with the horizontal being a breadth of understanding across multiple disciplines and the vertical being one or two areas of in-depth expertise. Through this paper s it appears to be a more complex idea than Amabile’s three intersecting circles. This is a different visual altogether, but does sit with another quotation by Frans Johansson’s, a book called ‘The Midici Effect’.
AMABILE, T M (2012) Componential Theory of Creativity. Working Paper: Harvard Business School
This paper begins by defining creativity, which is quoted in the literary review, and then continues to explore the creative process and its outcomes. Amabile then goes onto examining the environment which best supports this creative process, which support Jahansson’s ‘Intersection’ theory and further develops upon her earlier model called ‘The Three Components of Creativity’. This development builds upon ‘Expertise, Creative Thinking Skills and Motivation’, examining their sub-processes, placing the model into context and developing a theoretical model.
Even though this context is more design, business orientated, the example grounded the ideals and created an easier to understand construction than many other paper on the same subject. The overall information within this paper also helped me to develop my rational within the practical element of my research project.
BELL, J. WATER, S. (2014) Doing your Research Project. 6th Edition: Open University Press
I utilised this paper to inform me as to how to write a questionnaire. This mainly consisted of understanding how to pose a question and that the questions became harder as the questionnaire progressed. It also defined the aesthetics that I worked to, including creating a single page document with certain spacing.
BROOKFIELD, S (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. 1st Edition: Jossey-Bass
This text was used to define how I considered the teaching problems that I faced. This allowed me to place these issues into a structure or defined wording, in which to find the research project that I undertook.
BUSCH, K (2009) Artistic Research, A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods. Volume 2. No. 2
This journal looks at the nature of research through the creative subjects. It begins by introducing its current position within the different creative industries and then places it within a historical context. Busch also writes about the framework that this research constructs, drawing in information from multiple disciplines including science and mathematics.
It then develops its analysis and looks at the current industry of pure research and how both are represented within the educational system. These other industries are also used as comparisons to magnify the positives of developing theoretical frameworks with the creative industries, working in an environment with minimal boundaries.
CETINA, K (2007) Culture in Global Knowledge Societies: Knowledge Cultures and Epistemic Culture. 1st Edition: Maney Publishers
This paper is concerned with knowledge culture and epistemic culture, analysed against changes in the environment. The analysis of such an area of study is relatively new, coming into prominence in the 1970’s, were this paper begins its historical description.
It then focuses on ‘Culture in Relation to Knowledge’, how the perception of knowledge is rooted in contemporary existence. It then goes onto analyse how knowledge has replaced capital, labour and natural resources as central value and wealth creation.
As this paper develops I became quite interested in how influential culture has become on the development of knowledge and in turn how culture was influenced by environmental factors.
CLOW, R. DAWN, T (2007) The Ultimate FE Lecturer’s Handbook
This book has been generally very useful to my studies throughout the last two years. It defines a broad range of teaching concepts whilst describing how to manage behaviour, the academic role and group teaching, as a few examples.
More specifically I have used this book to clearly understand the ‘Yerkes-Dodson’ curve, describing it as an undulation between different performances, maximising attention.
COOPER, S. FARADAY, S. OVERTON, C (2001) Effective Teaching and Learning in Vocation Education. 1ST Edition: LSN
This paper, written and researched by the City and Guilds, analyses the vocational education system. It reviews the structures within these systems and how this is placed within the working environment in which the individuals end up. The quote that I drew from this paper was concerning the lack of specific, industry or vocational literature that is written concerning the teaching within these subjects. With this realisation it states that this is due to traditional teaching models applying within these circumstances, even though from my experience practical, or technical, teaching is done with very little teaching knowledge.
With this notion of traditional teaching being relevant, the paper continues with standard basic description about how to instigate engagement and check learning, back up by vocational relevant information.
CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, M. GETZELS, J. (2014) The Personality of Young Artists: An Empirical and Theoretical Exploration. 2nd Edition: Journal of Psychology
The work within this article is very relevant to the level in which I teach, examining individuals at a higher educational level within the arts. Initially begun due to the imbalanced focus upon established artists, it utilises Cattell’s 16 personality factor questionnaire to examine the personality traits of students within college undertaking an arts degree.
From the data and Cattell’s framework it examines how these personality traits influence the undertaking, learning and completion of a creative course. The findings show a high similarity between founded artists and students, which goes onto describe innate creative traits. The ‘weight’ of these traits are examined and placed into context with other theorists, the general college population and other research subjects. Overall the findings are fascinating, describing creative individuals as being significantly more socially reserved, aloof, introspective with a low ‘superego strength’, as a few examples. Personally I can identify with these ideas and see their relevance through my teaching experience.
DENSCOMBE, M (2010) The Good Research Guide. 4th Edition: Open University Press
This book is a highly useful on, in respect to this research project. It gradually takes you through how to perform a small scale research project, with clear, concise descriptions. Within my project I have found it mainly useful when understanding how to develop from my findings.
FASKO, D (2001) Education and Creativity. Vol.13: Creativity Research Journal
This journal reviews some of the literature, in a historical context, surrounding the progression of thinking and research in the field of creativity and education. It looks at the phychological side, learning theory, motivation and the statistics that support it. Fasko then goes onto analysing how this information is applied in a teaching context and models that visualise this information.
Overall this paper is a good foundation to understand the subjects to look deeper into, not only as it is aimed at pre 16 education, but also due to its overview nature. Working from this paper the bibliography is quite broad and led me onto many other papers in this list.
FREUD, S (2009) On Creativity and the Unconscious: Papers on the Psychology of Art, Literature, Love, Religion.
The overview of this book is that it is a collection of important essays on the many expressions of creativity, including art, literature, love, dreams, and spirituality. The quote is from his introduction analysing his opinion of artists, and how their mind breaks from reality, almost finding a secondary language. Although there are links with psychopaths and other mental illnesses made, which has since been disputed, his analysis does bring about some positive reflections and interest from from Freud, hence his general interest in the subject.
GILLHAM, B (2004) Developing a Questionnaire. 2nd Edition: Continuum Publishing
This book was highly useful when I came to designing the aesthetics of my questionnaire. It describes how the recipient can reflect against what they receive, biasing the data that you gain. Minimising this, it suggest a clear, single page document that has a level of clarity in all ways.
ISAKSON, S (1998) A review of Brainstorming Research: Six Critical Issues for Inquiry
This paper looks at the empirical literature on brainstorming, more recently called mind mapping. It analyses major issues, explores the academic understandings, analyses 40 empirical studies from 1988-1998 and then argues for further evaluation of the models involved.
Although this is more of a development paper the description help within, concerning Osborn’s 1953 seven step breakdown was a highly beneficial one. It sets out to point out the problem, gather data, break the problem down, stock pile information, evaluate ideas, create from gathered pieces and finally judge the results.
This set of divisions could actually create a lesson plan in itself, but would also work to instigate a group’s schema or generally to develop creative ideas that had become static.
JOHANSSON, F (2006) The Midici Effect. 1st Edition: Harvard Business Review Press
This book explores ‘The Intersection’, were different information or ideas come together. He explores how these converging concepts are understood by certain individuals, were they realise, or create, new paths of thought. Many examples are given to back up this concept, whilst attempting to teach how there are lessons to be gleamed throughout. Through this book I begun to understand the fine line that creativity treads, tenuously exploring areas that have very little previous information about, were failure is riskier but success is more rewarding. There is also a chapter which looks at how this ‘tenuous line’ attracts certain personality characteristics, explaining how certain individuals “accept that failure is part of innovation, and therefore they can somehow embrace it.”
LUCAS, SPENCER, CLAXTON (2007) How to teach vocational education [Online] [10/04/2016] Available at <http://www.skillsdevelopment.org/PDF/How-to-teach-vocational-education.pdf>
This paper, written by city and guilds, gives a concise description of vocational pedagogy. More specifically it describes the teaching skills used throughout the industry.
I utilised this information to place emphasis upon my research project, which also describes a lack of critical consideration within the industry.
KELLER-MATHERS, PUCCIO (2005) Creative Problem Solving. 1st Edition: International Centre for Studies in Creativity
This paper analyses creative problem solving (CPS), formulating a model and analysing it. This model has three stages, Clarification, Transformation and Implementation. It then goes further into each stage, looking at its implementation with a broad range of referencing.
This implementation is developed in respect to the educational environment and how results have been tested and analysed. Developing the output of these institutions it also looks at how this influences the industry and general knowledge.
Overall this paper is very useful, with many references, but with little cross analysis in respect to other creative process theorists.
KELLER-MATHERS, MURDOCK (2008) Teaching and Learning Creatively with the Torrance Incubation Model. Journal: The International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving
This paper explores the essential elements of creative teaching and learning explained within Torrance’s Incubation Model. It begins by exploring the general benefits of learning creatively and then explains how the TIM model has been used successfully for the past 20 years.
Physically the model is a diagram of a three dimensional box, utilising the front plane to represent factors such as curiosity and motivation under the title of anticipation. The side of the box includes digging deep and making mistakes under the title of deepening expectations. The final side is represented by the depth described as extending learning, with each side being fed consecutively by the flow of the creative process.
Although simplistic and lacking in accurate description this model places the process in an easy to understand flow, which is useful at a surface level stage.
McGILL, BEATTY (1995) Action Learning: a guide for professional, management and educational development.
This article describes how to utilise action learning sets, including the meeting routine and structure. Understanding this structure was highly beneficial to the process, creating a clear way of developing your ideas and concerns with a group.
PETTY, G (2009) Teaching Today. 4th Edition: Nelson Thornes Ltd
This book is a practical guide to basic teaching techniques, which I have used throughout the two years of study. More specifically I have used it to define certain teaching skills such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and Schema theory, as a few examples.
PIIRTO, J (2011) Creativity for 21st Century Skills. 1st Edition: Sense Publishing
This is a paper examining the different theories dividing up the process of creativity. Initially exploring the history of understanding, then the physiological functions and progressing onto the more detailed psychological study and teaching perspectives. Through these ideas she forms divisions into Five Core Attitudes, the Seven I’ for Creativity and the General Practices for Creativity, culminating everything into ‘Piirto’s Pyramid’.
All of the data then places it within a teaching context, examining how this information can best be utilised. The level of information held within this paper has led me onto many other ideas and theorists and placing into a rough historical framework.
PRITCHARD, A (2014) Ways of Learning. 3rd Edition: Routledge Publishing
This book is an overview of some of the basic theories within teaching from Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, referenced, The Honey-Mumford Model to more current physiological and psychological understandings within this field. I personally utilise this book in a referencing capacity, as the writing is clear and concise with a good checklist to facilitate in creating good lesson plan and rationale.
The referenced literature is a basic overall division of how individuals learn in different styles, working as a reminder when considering a lesson and facing tutorials in a flexible manner.
SANDELL, R (2012) What Excellent Visual Art Education Looks Like. Journal: National Art Education Association
This paper begins by examining innovation and technologies place within education and how it can create access to creative expression and critical response. It continues to develop certain ideas within this field to support a balance within the teaching environment, structuring an attitude that closely represents the world in which we live.
A model is also formed to develop a balance of formal, thematic and contextual qualities to shape layers of meaning. This model constructs a format in which to develop ideas that represent the more interdisciplinary nature of the art’s and the broad information environment in which we live.
Even though the general nature of this paper holds nothing particularly original the model does form another easy to understand representation for me to utilise in the future.
SCCH, UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON (2016) Student Handbook
This handbook is given to the learners at the start of the Fine Art BA. It outlines the course and the expectations as a learner. I used this handbook to understand how the learner understands the environment that they are within, and what is given to them by the institutions.
SCHURR, S (2005) Dynamite in the Classroom. Fifth Edition: NMSA
The book is a general teacher’s handbook, not subject orientated and aimed at higher education. The section of the book that I focused upon is regarding Frank Williams’ ‘Creative Taxonomy’, developed for creative thinking and broken up into eight levels.
The first four levels ‘Fluency, Flexibility, Originality and Elaboration’ relate to the cognitive areas of intelligence, effectively thought process. The remaining four are ‘Curiosity, Imagination, Complexity and Risk Taking’, relating to the affective areas of personal development.
It then places these ideas into context through examples and possible tasks to complete with learners in glass, such as a creative game of tic-tac-toe. Overall this paper is highly useful and a possible way to construct a critical thinking lesson plan in the future.
TREFFINGER,D. ISAKSEN, S. FIRESTEIN, R (2011)Theoretical Perspective on Creative Learning and its Facilitation. Volume 17. Issue 1: The Journal of Creative Behaviour
The work by these three individuals is a moderately in-depth analysis of the psychological factors behind the creative mind. Firstly they look at the rational, cognitive side of associations, examining the nature of the person and less upon the processes. Secondly they look at personality and environmental approaches, examining the positive conception of creativity and biological and economical growth models.
Developing from these ideas they develop the psychoanalytical views, referencing Freud among others. This area of study questions one theorists against another, stressing ideas such as the ‘regression of ego’, ‘preconscious over unconscious’ and Jung’s collective unconscious, all describing the creative process.
In a more practical sense the paper develops onto application through the analysis of environmental factors and teaching applications, all of which were very useful in the context of this research.
UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON (2016) Program Specifications
This literature was written to define the framework that the Fine Art BA works within. This information is not seen by the learner but is written against the awarding bodies’ framework, overall defining the course structure and grading system.
UNSWORTH , K (2001) Unpacking Creativity. 1st Edition: Academy of Management
Along with many other papers this one begins by defining creativity as “the production of novel ideas that are useful and appropriate to the situation”. The author then continues by examining the drivers of creativity, the responses, it’s contribution and places all of these notions into context.
The main idea I took from this paper was the difficulty in examining creativity, which is how I utilised this paper within the literary review. More specifically it looks at ‘Responsive Creativity’, which it explains is the most historically tested area. This division, also known as a closed problem, is described as the main way creativity is examined, creating a ‘Schroddinger Cat’ type problem, affecting the results through the examination itself. My overall understanding of this paper led me to exam questionnaire design to gather the data for my research project, attempting to minimally corrupt any results I collect.
WOLF, A (2011) The Wolf Report
The Wolf Report is a well known paper written to examine vocational education and how it can be improved to increase employability, educational progression or other training routes. This paper is aimed at 14-19 year olds and also provides recommendations for educators and policy makers.
The main part I am interested in within this large document is the budget restraints surrounding this more practically led vocational training. It appears that established vocational qualifications are recognised, valued and critical to key industries but are being denied funding by government agencies. It goes on to make comparisons to other European countries in a positive light, explaining businesses prefer in-house training, but does not examine creative subjects which feed upon this knowledge at a base level.
Overall this important document explains the general educational stand point, which does overall explain the cuts to workshop facilities that institutions are facing.
ZAKARIA, F (2015) In Defence of a Liberal Education. 1st Edition: Norton Publishing
Even though I have not directly quoted from this book it was one of my inspirations to work on this subject. The book argues for a broad education, generally decreasing bias in the teaching environment to allow a broad understanding, to effectively develop a creative attitude within the learner.