Abstract: In a recent study of pedagogy in two art and design colleges (Sawyer, 2018), I identified the beliefs and practices of instructors through interviews and studio class observations. The instructors’ goal is to help students learn a specific form of creative thinking: one that enables them to engage in a creative process that is iterative and unpredictable, during which one asks questions, notices unexpected stimuli, identifies opportunities for moving forward, and continually views the unfolding work as provisional and capable of being improved. In interviews, instructors said that creative thinking is one of the most important learning outcomes of their pedagogy. In this talk, I present the results of a new study that extends these findings, by analyzing the conversational and social practices instructors use when commenting on student work. My research goal was to identify specific interactional mechanisms used by professors, and if and how they guided students toward mastery of creative thinking. I present transcript excerpts of conversations between the instructor and a student during a studio encounter called the pinup. In a pinup, one student displays an interim work in progress. The instructor examines and comments on that work, while the other students observe the conversational exchange. Using a conversation analysis methodology, I identified and analyzed several specific interactional mechanisms that, I argue, implicitly model creative thinking. I interpret these findings using sociocultural theories of the pedagogical relationships between thought and language in situated social practices. Using these interactional mechanisms, instructors externalize their own creative thinking in their speech. By modeling creative thinking, an instructor enables students to internalize this speech as their own creative thinking. In studio pedagogy, creative thinking is not only taught through explicit instruction; it is communicated implicitly through studio interaction, as instructor and students jointly participate in situated social practice.
In preparation for the seminar, we recommend you to read this article:
R. Keith Sawyer (2018). Teaching and Learning How to Create in Schools of Art and Design, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 27:1, 137-181.
Biography: Dr. Keith Sawyer is the Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He studies creativity, collaboration, and learning. He has written over 80 scientific articles, and is the author or editor of 14 books, including Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation (2ndedition, 2012) and The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (2nd edition, 2014). In Dr. Sawyer’s current research, he is studying how teaching and learning are organized in U.S. professional schools of art and design, with the goal of identifying pedagogical beliefs and practices associated with teaching and learning for creativity. By analyzing these findings in the context of contemporary studies of creativity and learning, the potential is to generalize these beliefs and practices to design more effective learning environments in all subjects. As part of this research, he has conducted ethnographic studies of the Savannah College of Art & Design, in Savannah, Georgia, and of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. He has continued these two ethnographies with studies at six additional U.S. colleges of art and design.
Everyone interested is very welcome to join the seminar!