Learning in visual art practice
Sammanfattning: The object of research in this thesis is learning within the context of a practice-based Master of Fine Arts program in visual art in Sweden. Research on learning in visual art practice within higher education is sparse, and we know little of the students’ learning processes. What qualities do the students actually develop during their studies? How may the development of these qualities be supported in a meaningful way? With these questions as a guide, the aim of this thesis is to contribute to the development of a theoretical reference frame for learning in visual art practice in higher education. Three studies based on interview data (accounted for in Articles II, III, IV), are presented, along with a theoretical study (Article I). Contextual analysis was generally used in the processing of the empirical data. In Article I, different views of knowledge and of understanding artistic practice are discussed, and arguments are advanced in favor of a phenomenographic view on learning in visual art practice. The studies in Articles II, III and IV are based on a longitudinal empirical investigation carried out in the period 2001-2007. Ten students in a practice-based MFA-program in visual art in Sweden were interviewed three times during their five-year education. The three empirical studies are exclusively based on the students’ communication of their experiences. Article II focuses on artistic development, understood as changes in the relation between the student and his/her artistic work. Article III explores the students’ use of studio conversations, where the students’ power of initiative is seen as central among the qualities developed in these conversations. Finally, the subject of Article IV is the function of art students’ use of studio conversations in relation to their own artwork. This study may be described as an in-depth case study related to Articles II and III. The results of the three studies are related to each other, and their implications are discussed, for learning in visual art practice in higher education, as well as for higher education in general. The studies all concern aspects of a highly self-directed learning situation, and the identified characteristics of this very special kind of self-direction are considered a main result of this thesis.
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