Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Campus Session 1: Module 2

Everyone attending had a starting point for the future inquiry. Inquiry topics can be driven by various forces including:

Place of work
Career Aspirations
Interest / Passion / Curiousity about topic

Some might find drawing out a mind map of all that is known / unknown about topic useful. With a map, connections and links can be made. What is could be tried out is to consider what would the impact be if one node on the map was removed – what impact would this have on the topic and the angle of it.

One topic that was suggested was about the preparation that vocational schools give to students for finding employment in the performing arts industry – e.g. preparing for auditions. This topic raises a whole lot of other questions such as…

Do vocational courses include preparation for work?
How do producers / directors select performers?
Is there a reputation attached to various schools? (For instance, the graduates of certain colleges tend to find work more than others?)
What if anything is included in these curricula?
Are there any broad similarities between those who find work easily after graduation and those who do not?
Who would know the answer to these?
Do vocational schools gather data / information on the destinations of graduates?
If so, does this data reveal anything?

Asking a range of questions and drilling further down into a topic can be revealing and suggest the focus of the inquiry. Another topic of interest yesterday was on Community Dance organizations. Again this raises a whole raft of deeper questions and should be reflected on to give shape to an inquiry.

Who are the range groups /individuals in a Community Dance organization?
Does one have priority?
Are all groups being catered for equitably / appropriately?
How is this known?
Is there a best model of practice / provision for a Community Dance organization?

These questions can be explored with peers and professional contacts (SIG) in order to help shape the inquiry. This then leads onto the inquiry tools which can be used and how ethical principles will be implemented.

Key points made were:

This module is a huge step up from Module 1
There are 3 readers to support each strand of the module
Networks, both peer and professional are essential to progress on this module
Subject interest groups will help with shaping the inquiry and can be useful in piloting inquiry tools
Reading about topics which may be pursued in an inquiry is essential

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Review of Assessment Activity

I am coming towards the end of the marking process and assessing final projects from Module 3 on the BAPP (Arts) programme. My colleagues and I have been fascinated by the findings and the range of professional artefacts that were produced. The artefacts are varied and include a poster, blurb book publications, lesson plans, a business plan, slideshare presentations and a website. The better artefacts were those which emerged as a result of doing the inquiry rather than merely replicating the inquiry process and directed at particular audiences. Already some artefacts, we discovered, have been adopted / accepted in professional contexts. Informing and transforming professional practice is something that is an actual benefit from the programme

The presentations I viewed were as varied as the inquiries and certainly helped to illuminate the work that was done. One presenter made the point that she had gone through the modules, doing the tasks without really knowing why. “I just blogged because I had to”, she said. But, she declared that at the end of the process, she now understood that it was more than just a process - it was about learning. She added that the distinction between single loop and double loop learning was understood.

“What did you learn about learning?” is a question we asked a few of the presenters. What we were looking for here was not so much the answers to inquiries but, a recognition that the questions themselves are more important. If all our finalists have learned is that questions do not always have black or white answers and that more questions have to be asked, then we have done a good job. Critical questioning is what is expected in the final year of a BA (Hons) and evaluating and assessing the contribution of what is found out, to the topic of inquiries.

Going through the modules and completing the tasks and assignments may probably get you through the programme successfully. But how well you want to do in the programme will relate to your ability to critically engage in issues. This is the difference between surface and deep learning. We can teach someone how to use a computer programme or a camera but what we teach them will soon be out of date as technology develops. What will never date, and should take you through your professional life is the skill of critical inquiry.