Art approaches that help science education

Year: 2016

Author: Hannigan, Shelley, Keane, Jondi, Tytler, Russell

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

We are three researchers who together represent three areas of artistic practice, art education and science education. Building on the work of Tytler, Prain, Hubber and Waldrip, (2013), we explore ways in which art approaches can enhance science education. We engage in school-based research focusing on year 7-9 science classes in Victoria, Australia. When considering the kinds of art approaches that might work in year 7-9 science classes, we consider an expanded notion of how knowledge is acquired including embodied, sensory and cognitive learning. Our paper reports specifically on the art approaches that we drew together from our different fields of practice, research and experience. Through numerous discussions and learning about each other’s insights, we considered which arts approaches would be most helpful for the year 7-9 teaching and learning context. We were mindful of research that suggests visual-spatial problem-solving and embodied practical reasoning successfully support deeper learning in science education. We were aware of quality learning and creativity in school science and the arts (Kennedy & Rosengren, 2014) and keen to explore pedagogies that encourage processes similar to artistic practices including taking risks (Feist, 1998; Poorsoltan, 2012), making choices and learning inquiry skills (Morgan, 2005). Central to the artistic-creative approach is being experimental, experiential and encouraging play (Greene, 1998; Szekeley, 2015; Vygotsky, 1925/71) and allowing what emerges to be explored further which can amount in some cases, ‘transdisciplinary research’ (Foley, 2014). We considered particular art approaches to explore how sensory orientation can be reconfigured with emphasis to exercises that provide an experiencing of (abstract) science concepts. We considered ways of increasing student awareness of the relationship of body to environment and how this might enhance learning, creating and problem solving. Through the discussion of historical and contemporary art approaches and projects—from Brunelleschi’s Bapistry Door experiment to David Hockney’s polaroid and video experiments with perspective, to Arakawa and Gins experimental architecture Bioscleave House—we identified, extracted and offered ways to apply art approaches to the development of enriched learning approaches in science.