Listening and responding: Arts based inquiry in collaborative self-study research

Year: 2016

Author: White, Peta, Raphael, Jo, Hannigan, Shelley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Since mid 2014 the three authors of this paper have been part of a group of eight teacher educators using arts based inquiry and self-study to research our teaching practices. Our research group is called Collaborative Reflective Experience and Practice in Education (CREPE). We work at Deakin University and teach and research within the disciplines of curriculum and pedagogy, mathematics, visual arts, science, and performing arts. As a whole group we research collaboratively, meeting monthly and also participate in retreats and seminars. Groups of two or three members of the group also research topics specific to their common discipline areas or specific topics such as creativity in science and art education.The research question that drove CREPE from the start was: How can we continue to develop our teaching practice to ensure we are high quality, contemporary teacher educators, and practice informed researchers? As issues arose from our various research projects, it become clear that we needed to interrogate more deeply the communication and presentation of what we know, so that we could really help each other to be high quality, contemporary teacher educators and practice-informed researchers. Sometimes we communicate what we already know and arts based inquiry has the power to reveal knowledge that cannot be easily put into words, that may be hidden behind images we choose to present, or embedded within the narratives we communicate. The arts can reveal subconscious or embodied knowing, and through careful inquiry processes we can unpack this hidden or subconscious knowing.This paper reports on our specific use of arts-based inquiry with self-study methodology over time. We share how careful listening and responding to what is emerging within the CREPE research activities, called for a kind of reasoning. Developing the right kind of arts-based inquiry was crucial at particular stages of the evolution of CREPE’s research project(s). We share artifacts that were created, explain how the insights they revealed enabled new issues to arise, and how these inspired new arts-based inquiries. It is through the rhizomatic process of communicating, expressing, listening, reasoning and responding that true insights were made, to improve our selves as teacher educators, and our teaching practices.