Practices of Enquiry
Enquiry-based learning is an experiential, holistic process that foregrounds the student as active producer of their own knowledge. It is particularly prevalent in arts disciplines, where our students often design their own projects and navigate paths through a range of methods, discourse and practices.
The Teaching and Learning Exchange and a cross-college project team investigated:
- how we teach practices of enquiry
- how our students develop enquiry-led practice.
The aim was to develop a fuller understanding of how we teach within our disciplines and to articulate and share knowledge across the University.
What did we do?
In the spirit of enquiry, the project team ran a series of scoping workshops within each college, facilitating discussions on how staff nurture curiosity in their students.
The workshop findings led to the development of an institutional students-as-partners research project, where a team of student researchers were recruited to interview tutors about enquiry-based learning in their courses.
The resulting data was used to develop UAL's first exhibition of teaching, which was held in Chelsea's Cookhouse Gallery in November 2016 and High Holborn's Showroom Gallery in January 2017. A team of students, graduates and staff worked together to visually translate the teaching methods of several tutors into a series of installations and displays. The exhibition demonstrated what UAL teaching has to offer via graphic displays, video documentaries, audio guides and original student produced artworks. See a photo essay review of the exhibition here.
The project team also organised UAL’s first ever Undergraduate Research Forum, part of UAL’s Research Fortnight programme. In March 2016, 40 undergraduate students representing all colleges of the University met at Chelsea College of Arts to share their small-scale project work.
The intention was to raise the profile of undergraduate research and provide an opportunity for students to come together to celebrate and learn from each other’s work. Inter-disciplinary learning was the highlight of the day, with students commenting that the resonances and dissonances between our diverse courses are definitely worth exploring annually.
Why did we do this?
By working with students and harnessing their cross-disciplinary expertise, the intention is to share and enhance research practices. We do this by engaging staff and students in each other’s practice in ways that are accessible, useful and pertinent to our specialist arts institution context.