Professor Susan Orr

Dean of Learning, Teaching and Enhancement and Professor in Creative Practice Pedagogy

University of the Arts London

Biography

Professor Susan Orr is Dean and a Professor in Creative Practice Pedagogy at the University of the Arts London. Prior to UAL, Susan was an Assistant Dean and Acting Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University. Susan is a Visiting Professor at Bournemouth University (Centre for Excellence in Media Practice).

Susan studied at University College London and completed a Doctor of Education at the Institute of Education University College London. Her thesis Making Marks: the Artful Practice of Assessment in Fine Art explored fine art lecturers’ studio based assessment practices. She has written extensively on the subject of art and design in higher education as well as delivering a range of keynotes and papers at conferences in the UK and abroad. Susan is editor for the journal Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, and on the editorial board of three further journals: Teaching in Higher Education, Writing in Creative Practice and Media Education Research Journal. Susan regularly peer reviews work for a wide range of educational and creative journals.

Susan is a member of the European League of Institute of Arts Academy Conference Steering Group and she is on the steering group for GLAD (Group for Learning in Art and Design).

Susan is a HEFCE Teaching Excellence Framework panel member and worked with the TEF panel to deliver TEF 2.

In 2010, Susan was awarded a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship. This was awarded in recognition of her teaching, leadership, research and contribution to art and design HE pedagogy.

She has recently co-authored (with Professor Alison Shreeve) a book entitled Art and Design Pedagogy in Higher Education: Knowledge, Values and Ambiguity in the Creative Curriculum (Routledge, forthcoming).

At UAL she leads the Teaching and Learning Exchange which is comprised of Arts Education, Careers and Employability and Digital Learning. She is responsible for the delivery of the University’s Teaching and Learning Strategy. This strategy was nominated for a Times Higher Leadership and Management Award in 2017.

Research interests

Art and Design teaching and learning, creative practice pedagogy, Higher Education, assessment, collaborative assessment.

Research statement

My doctoral research grew out of my interest in communities of practice in fine art education. I noted that attention was often given to the artefacts of assessment (the learning outcomes and marking criteria) at the expense of understanding or addressing the ways these reified elements were used in practice. As a result, my work offers a close analysis of the assessment practices as lived by its key actors (lecturers and students).

Working from a social constructivist perspective and employing Bourdieu’s work as a theoretical lens I explore narratives of subjectivity and objectivity. My research identifies that lecturers’ assessment discourses interlock and enmesh narratives of identity, process, product and connoisseurship. I offer an account of assessment rigour in Fine Art assessment. 

More recently my interests have widened in scope and I have researched the assessment of creative collaborative group work, the role of reflection in creative practice education and the problematics of the National Student Survey in Art and Design. I have collaborated with Professor Mantz Yorke, Professor Sue Bloxham and others. Underpinning my work is a commitment to researching the pedagogy of ambiguity that lies of the heart of art and design education in HE.

Selected research outputs