The results so far have been encouraging, and have led to the following conclusions:
At my annual appraisal, it was agreed that working on Thursdays instead of Fridays has meant more contact with both colleagues and students, and it has had a beneficial effect. I have also had more contact with non-ceramic students and thus increased the cross-curricular use of clay. As a result, next year I will continue to work on a Thursday. This is a direct unintended outcome of attending the PG Cert course. The change of schedule may encourage more students to choose ceramics as a main subject or use clay in their projects.
In my reflective journal I describe a critical incident, during which I asked a foreign student to explain to someone else how he had achieved a particular glaze effect. After explaining, using the template and test tile, the student felt a sense of achievement that he expressed by giving me a high five. The student knew the person had understood because he commented that he had learnt the English word for “drip”. The student also mentioned “I have never done any ceramics before”.
Student test tile and final “drip” piece
I believe that my actions are student-focused and encourage a “deep approach” to their studies. Prosser and Trigwell (1999) showed that there is “some evidence that teachers who take a student approached focus to teaching and learning will encourage students towards a deep approach to study.” I felt that the Action Research experience helped me enormously with understanding why my teaching methods are working and which aspects need improvement.
If I could plan the glaze test demonstration for the fortnightly taster sessions in the first term as part of the induction into the studio, it would hasten the understanding of the glaze possibilities and encourage students to make use of the existing glaze tests and experiments. It might also prevent unglazed work from accumulating at the end of the taster projects. The next batch of sample tiles will demonstrate the application of two different glazes, (double dipping), so that the students can continue to contribute to the glaze test tile resource. As my results show, any additions to the resource help students discover that glazing is amazing.