• The Bookbinding Workshop: making as collaborative pedagogic practice

      Kealy-Morris, Elizabeth; University of Chester (2015-02)
      The value of Engagement is no longer questioned” (Trowler & Trowler, 2010, p.9) Trowler & Trowler, in their 2010 report for the HEA’s Student Engagement Project, note that studies have consistently shown associations between student engagement and improvements in identified desired outcomes, including cognitive development, critical thinking skills, practical competence, and skills transferability. They also note that there are specific features of engagement which improve outcomes, including student-staff contact, active learning, and cooperation amongst students such as group work and peer support. Trowler & Trowler found that interacting with staff has been shown to have a powerful impact on learning, especially when it takes place outside the classroom and responds to individual student needs. The NUS 2012 Student Experience Survey supports Trowler & Trowler’s findings. The purpose of the study was to understand student expectations of a university experience. Teaching quality was cited as the most important factor in what makes a good learning experience. Students want more engaging teaching styles that are interactive, use technology & props to make the subject more accessible and interesting. This paper will consider student engagement through collaborative teaching and learning practices I have developed within a series of bookbinding workshops in which I acquire new skills alongside my students. Developed directly from my practice-based PhD inquiry The Artist Book: making as embodied knowledge of practice & the self which emerged from my curiosity of whether new knowledge of practice, creativity, expression and the self might emerge from the embodied practice of making with one’s hands. Inspired by the research of Reid and Solomonides (2007) which suggests that for creative students to engage successfully in their studies they must have the opportunity to “develop a robust Sense of Being [sic]” . The most valuable pedagogic conditions, according to Reid and Solomonides, will be those that create learning opportunities that encourage this embodiment of the creative self. Lawrie (2008) ponders whether design educators could encourage in our students a deeper understanding of their subject beyond skills leading to employability and entrepreneurship. She suggests, “…an answer may lie in the intersection of embodiment, meaning and signification” . The bookbinding workshop developed from my desire to seek ways to engage with and alongside students in my practice and research to ground my own making within my pedagogic practice. In this way students are not being ‘instructed’ by a skilled specialist but rather collaborating with a committed enthusiast and researcher learning from their practice and experience. This paper will discuss the impact these workshops have had on participating students, their practice and their sense of “creative self” through the analysis of anonymous surveys carried over the span of two years.