Hello and welcome to the first issue of JUICE, the Journal of Useful Investigations in Creative Education!
Launching a journal is no small task. It requires the belief and commitment of a dedicated team of individuals, and so I would like to begin by expressing my sincere thanks to all the authors and peer reviewers whose belief in JUICE has made the project possible.
As with most complex projects, JUICE has been a long time in the making. The journal has evolved through the need to provide a platform for both established and early career academics to share their investigations into new pedagogic practices. As stated in our mission statement about JUICE, the ‘creative’ nature of these investigations does not have to be paradigm-shifting. Rather, the aim is to showcase those personal moments of creative education that are often lost – moments where you try something different in your educational practice and it leads you to a new discovery.
Our first issue contains a diverse collection of articles that explore different aspects of creative education. We begin with ‘Rethinking the reading list’ by Ray Martin, which tackles the persistent problem of how to make reading lists more useful to students. Citing the provocative quote ‘the reading list is dead’, (Stubley, 2002: 54), the author provides a helpful review of the literature to show that there is clear need for fresh thinking on the development and use of reading/resource lists.
Our second article ‘Distance learning in Creative Arts Education’ takes us into the Open College of the Arts (OCA), an organisation which aims to widen participation in arts higher education. Author Doug Burton offers a thoughtful and reflective account of ‘slow learning’, a concept that is integral to OCA’s model of higher education, and argues that the opportunity to engage at a slower pace can create a truly student-centred approach to learning.
We then embark on a fascinating an insightful critique of the didactic approach to teaching that often leads to passive learning in universities, courtesy of David Anderson. In his article ‘Problem solver to problem causer – a narrative’, the author draws attention to the need for students to move beyond the often-stated need to become effective problem-solvers. David proposes that if we are to deliver a truly ‘higher’ education, we must enable students to become ‘creative problem causers’ by helping them learn how to research and formulate their own creative questions.
The following article, ‘A tale of two workshops’ by Mike Rymer, provides a wonderful example of what real inclusivity looks like in the classroom. The article presents two different approaches to facilitating a workshop side-by-side, one highly inclusive and the other not. By doing this, the author reminds us of the considerable power that we have as educators, and shows how our every word and action in the classroom can affect the inclusivity of the learning environment.
In her article ‘Using digital technologies to reshape the first year undergraduate experience’, Mary-lou Barratt reflects on two different approaches to enhancing learning with technology. Mary-lou explains how she made greater use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (myUCA) by providing recorded lectures and blogs to extend students’ opportunities to engage with the curriculum. In the article, the author shows the value of making pragmatic use of relevant technologies for student learning, even if doing so requires us to move out of our comfort zone.
Tara Murphy then provides an account of an initiative to provide ‘Inclusivity and diversity support for technicians at a creative arts university’. Conceived as part of a wider response to the withdrawal of the Disabled Students Allowance, the workshop provided a valuable opportunity for technical staff to develop the ability to provide more inclusive learning opportunities. The author explains how she and her colleagues adapted aspects of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to create practical guidance for technicians, and highlights the value of creating opportunities for staff to share their own approaches to providing inclusive learning.
Our next article explores the benefits and challenges of ‘(Re)designing an integrated Fashion Contextual Studies programme’. Author Marilia Jardim provides an account of how she drew on her experience of structural semiotics and phenomenology to examine the notion of critical practice in a Fashion curriculum. The author explains how such an approach enabled her to tackle the persistent opposition of theory and practice and create a curriculum where students could better understand the relationship between these concepts.
Continuing the theme of curriculum development, Harry Whalley puts forward a practical approach to creating a more integrated learning experience. In his article ‘If this then that: a wider view of curriculum design’, the author proposes a way of coordinating the content of multiple concurrent units that makes it easier to see how each relate to the other. The article then uses the idea of ‘syllabus as manifesto’ to argue for the value of situating curricula within a wider societal context.
In ‘Championing Grademark for Assessment and Feedback in Film Production’, Carol Walker explains why she made the case to introduce online feedback on her course. The author describes how the need to develop a more participatory approach to assessment and feedback led to her exploration of Grademark. The articles provides an account of the challenges that had to be overcome in order to convince colleagues of the benefits of moving to online feedback, and shows how these changes led to the creation of a more effective feedback loop between students and staff.
Our final article is an opinion piece by Nicholas Houghton which examines ‘What is wrong with Eisner’s theory of connoisseurship for assessment in the arts – and why’. While connoisseurship has long been used to guide assessment in creative disciplines, the author points out several key reasons as to why such an approach is problematic. In highlighting the faults with connoisseurship, the article provides a powerful reminder of the the often-hidden factors that can influence us when we are assessing student work.
The last word
Phew. If you succeed in reading all of the above articles, you’ll probably need to have a short lie down in a dark room. But I very much hope you enjoy the perspectives on creative education that the authors provide, and that you find something useful that you can take back into your educational practice. It just remains for me to say that if you have an example of creative education that you would like to share, the JUICE team would love to hear from you.