Exploring the relationship between teaching and Learning through practice

Cynthia Cousens, Helen Stuart, Alma Boyes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


This research explores teaching and learning through demonstration, observation and emulation and how this is used as part of the creative process. We are practitioner-researchers. The project has grown out of our practical experience as makers, and our role as teachers and demonstrators on the MDes Materials Practice at the University of Brighton. This is a creative craft-based course where creativity is expressed through object making, which is characterised by the object’s physical presence and materiality. Demonstrations, where a student is physically shown how to do a process, technique or use a piece of equipment, are the chief way that technical knowledge is acquired and therefore hold a fundamental place in the curriculum. The questions we are addressing are: • How do we teach and students learn through technical demonstrations? • How does this inform the creative process? • How effective is live demonstration and what is its relevance? • What parallels can be drawn for teaching and learning across the disciplines in Art and Design? The objective of the research is to inform the most effective way to deliver demonstration on practice-based courses in Higher Education and to enable changes to be made to curricula as a result of the outcomes. The research has primarily been through case studies from the craft based programme Materials Practice in Metal and Ceramics and by comparison with other practice based disciplines such as Pharmacology, Dance, Culinary Arts and Physiotherapy. We have observed and recorded demonstrations, collecting data by interview, work samples, video recording and questionnaires. Analysis has taken place through group discussions with the student voice central to the process at all levels. The main findings to be explored in this work-in-progress session at the conference are: 1. Communication and delivery 2. Role of live performance 3. Student involvement and interaction This forms part of our bigger project “Exploring the Relationship Between Teaching and Learning Through Practice”. It is funded by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design, at the University of Brighton, which focuses on themes of practice-based learning and object scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnhancing Curricula: using research and enquiry to inform student learning in the disciplines
EditorsNicholas Houghton
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherCentre for Learning and teaching in Art & Design 2008
Number of pages1
Volume4th International conference
ISBN (Print)9780956038203; 9780956038210
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • teaching and learning
  • pedagogy
  • demonstration
  • non-verbal communication
  • live performance
  • crafts
  • skills
  • making
  • practice-based disciplines


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