Creative practice, value, and the teaching of art and design in higher education
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
MetadataShow full item record
Document TypePhD thesis
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Despite the current emphasis on creativity in education, the teaching of art and design in universities is an underresearched area of higher education. Those who teach within university art and design disciplines are most often artists and designers with their own active and vibrant creative practices. Yet the connection between the teaching of art and design and the creative practices of the artists and designers who teach in those programs is not well understood. This thesis is an attempt to articulate this area. Contemporary higher education, a space currently experiencing much change due to the force of economics and policy in Australia and internationally, is the contextual background for this research. Within this context, the academic disciplines of art and design and those who teach within them are considered in light of their creative practices as artists and designers, and the value of this practice. I began with the premise that there is value in the teaching of art and design, and from the creative practices of artists and designers who teach in these disciplines; therefore, this thesis focuses on articulating the nature of this value rather than arguing for its existence. To research this topic, a qualitative methodology was used, with Australian art and design academics as participants. Qualitative methods involving two phases included semistructured interviews, class observations, visual data, participant journals, and field notes. Value theory was the main theoretical lens used for analysis, in addition to theories of embodied and tacit knowledge, and creativity. Analysis highlighted that participants model and draw from creative practice in teaching of art and design, conceptualise research in a variety of ways, struggle to balance their two professional worlds of creative practice and teaching, and seek the support of university leadership. Value, value disconnects, and tensions became apparent. In addition, research highlighted that dual values are at play: those of participants and those of universities. The research found the value that artist/designer-academics contribute from their creative practices to the teaching of art and design is primarily instrumental in nature because it is a means towards obtaining something else: enabling and assisting students to create works of art and design. I argue that this value encompasses three key areas in the teaching of art/design: the modelling of professional art/design practice, the ability to draw from various creative practices, and the mentoring of art/design students. In addition, artist/designer-academics contribute value in the form of their creative practice to the research agendas and outputs of universities. Each of these areas is contingent upon support and leadership within universities. Recommendations outlined suggest a way forward. This thesis is based in the experiences, views, and voices of its participants: those with active art and design practices who teach in university art and design programs. It also takes into account the realities of contemporary higher education, disciplinary cultures, creative practice, and notions of value in articulating the nature of the value contributed from the creative practices of artists and designers to the teaching of art and design.
Keywordshigher education; art; design; teaching; creative practice; value; university; creativity
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