Pandaji's Blog

Art, research, education

Action research project: transformative experience

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I wanted to see if I could enhance students’ understanding of threshold concepts of ceramics. “A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress.” (Meyer and Land 2006:3)

Understanding one of these ideas is, according to Erik Meyer and Ray Land, (the principal researchers in the field), “like opening a door,” revealing other aspects of the subject that hitherto have been hidden, and showing how they fit into place. They call these ideas “threshold concepts.” “If you can identify the threshold concepts in your discipline, and if you can find better ways to teach them, and to assess whether students have really got them or not, your students will get much further.” (Atherton, J. 2010) Therefore to be able to experiment for oneself and fully appreciate the outcome is a transforming experience.

Plate 4

Non-standard test tile

Plate 4: non-standard test tile

When looking at a non-standard test tile (see plate 4), one cannot judge the original thickness, so one has to experience doing it for oneself to learn the correct consistency for a particular glaze. I agree with the following seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education as mentioned by Chickering, A. W. & Z. F. Gamson (1987)

Good practice:

1. Encourages contact between students and faculty;

2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students;

3. Encourages active learning;

4. Gives prompt feedback;

5. Emphasizes time on task;

6. Communicates high expectations;

7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

I have consistently tried to adhere to these principles. The occurrence of all seven aspects can be recognised in the experimentation and performing of glaze tests.


Author: pandaji

Ceramic artist, educator

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