Higher education is at an exciting and challenging crossroads today. We are in a period of enormous change, and the action needed is not like anything that has happened in the last thirty or forty years. With rising tuition, many legislators, parents, and students are seeking alternatives. You probably have already heard about MOOCS (massive open online courses) and Coursera (free online courses), as well as the national push for and funding of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses.
There are other methods and programs that have emerged that are changing the academic landscape in the delivery of information. Online portfolios, “flipped” classrooms, and “think, pair, share” are methods with which students at the University of Washington are becoming quite familiar. Learning through experience has become a highly important component of higher education along with skill building for learning. These are already the basic premise of what we do and how we teach in much of the School of Art, and the critique is one of the frameworks for information delivery. Students work on projects, discuss their ideas and concepts with their classmates, make adjustments, and then present solutions at the critique (or paper presentation) where further discussion takes place guided by the instructor, fueled with comments and suggestions for possible revisions.
During the next year, a research team from the Office of Educational Assessment will be looking into how the Arts are assessed. The researchers are conducting interviews with faculty and students in Art, Dance, Drama, and Music to determine how active learning takes place. The purpose of this UW study of Learning in Embodied and Artistic Disciplines (UW LEADS) is to challenge limited notions of what it means to learn in college by examining the little-studied and rarely-assessed area of teaching and learning—an area they are calling “embodied learning.” Their study includes the following questions:
- What constitutes learning in embodied and artistic disciplines or practices?
- How is that learning taught?
- What are the applications of that learning inside and outside the disciplinary areas?
- How is learning typically assessed in these fields?
When the UW LEADS research is completed, I would be happy to share the outcome as I am very interested, and I know you are too.
The School of Art is very fortunate. Many generous alumni and friends invest in knowledge throughout the year. This makes it possible for students to open their minds to the ideas, experiences, and understanding of the world that will free their imaginations and prepare them for rewarding and meaningful lives in whatever they choose. I hope you will consider giving to one of our many programs that would benefit from your generosity. Your continued support in so many different ways means so much to all of us in the School of Art.
Director, School of Art
Wyckoff Milliman Endowed Chair in Art