- To help understand how the thickness of a glaze alters its appearance, I provided a template (see appendix 1) and a workshop discussion about how to read the glaze test tiles.
- To encourage testing, I provided tiles of various clay types ready for glaze testing and I made laminated guidance notes on glazing (see appendix 2). I notified students of kiln firing schedules in advance by putting a chart of scheduled firings on the kiln room door.
- I informed the student group and staff about the innovations and explained that I was doing this as part of my own studies.
After the workshop discussion about glaze tests and the information one can gain when one knows how to read them, the students gave feedback that I then acted on. As a result, I felt that the emphasis of the research project changed. Not only were the students doing glaze tests, they were also helping each other with these and other ceramic techniques.
The peer learning part of the project occurred for the same reasons as the glaze testing. During a group discussion on glaze test results, I suggested the chart of techniques under which people could sign up if they felt they were confident enough to be able to answer questions or show someone how to do a particular thing. For example, make a mold or perform a glaze test. (See appendix 3)
Evaluating the project, I used recordings of discussions, a short questionnaire, and my personal observations and reflections. By inviting discussions of glaze test results with the student peer group, (see appendix 4) I hoped to show:
- An increased understanding of the way the thickness of application can totally change the appearance of the same glaze;
- Realisation of the decorative potential and further testing of glazes; and
- The possibility of students’ standardised tests becoming part of the glaze tile resource.
As part of my approach towards all resources, and because it is useful to perform tests on work with a vertical aspect to see the movement of glaze (“drips”), I encouraged the use of unglazed pieces left behind by previous students. I observed that those students who had experienced transformative learning during the course used vocabulary and language akin to an expert in the field. The questions being asked by students were indicative of an understanding of the glazing process compared to previous comments, which revealed total confusion about this process. The ability to understand this difference is a threshold concept in ceramics. Understanding the difference makes the learner realise the complexities and opens up the subject for further exploration.
By encouraging the sharing of their test results with the group and generating discussions in an informal way, many students were able to increase their confidence and knowledge of glaze techniques, learn from each other, and feel comfortable asking questions or making suggestions.