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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Arts Based Educational Research (ABER): adventures in pedagogic practice and teacher education for a more equitable world.

Gregson, Daniel and Gregson, Margaret (2023) Arts Based Educational Research (ABER): adventures in pedagogic practice and teacher education for a more equitable world. Comparative International Education Society Conference 2023.

Item Type: Article


As noted in UNESCO Reports (2021,2022) the many current global and overlapping crises currently before us, including, social and economic inequality, climate change, the rise of identity-driven populist politics, coupled with persistent scandals in democratic governance, stem from, are reproduced, legitimated and sustained by long-standing, complex political economic and social divisions and inequalities embedded in national and international l systems of our own making. In England, these systems have driven us to the historical, precarious crossroads at which we now find ourselves. Our arrival at this point provides further evidence that current systems and arrangements are not enough to protect and realize sustained and sincere support for a world order anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
While the expansion of the education system has widened, participation for some under-represented and marginalized groups, unacceptably high numbers of learners in England remain excluded from, or have been left with, low quality experiences of education. Freedom of choice, access to and success in education reside in the hands of a privileged few. The system is permeated by opportunities for advantage-seeking and the pursuit of the interests of an already privileged social class which are allowed to override the interests of the many. Demarcation lines for the education of the poor continue to be as starkly drawn as they were in the education system of pre-1870 England. The right to a good education still very much depends upon the social class of your parents and where you live (Ball, 2018).
The realization of the CIES 2023 conference theme, ‘improving education for a more equitable world’, will require the development of new pedagogical principles and practices and the opening up of places and spaces in which we can imagine new educational futures. Our purpose in thinking about new educational horizons allows us to frame the present differently to enable us to encounter existing social, intellectual and economic boundaries not as shackles to past inequities but as tension points condensing the past in order to see and open up new educational possibilities together. Rethinking the relationship between teachers, students, education leaders and others and building their capacities to work together for mutual benefit in the interests of the common good will be pivotal to success.
This brings us to the question of what educational futures are desirable and for whom? This sets us on a quest not so much for “what works” as to the question of “education for what?”.
In systems of education preoccupied with quick-fix responses to hyperactive policy processes conducted at social media speed, measures of educational quality based upon performance outputs have become conflated with educational standards. Questions of educational values and purpose are now displaced and reduced to blunt and crude measures of outputs which then masquerade as what counts as quality in education. In this context, it is wise to remember that a public that is inured to these fixed ways of seeing and thinking about what we mean by good education, may find it difficult to imagine how educational evaluation and improvement might be done differently.
If we accept that education should be respected and concerned with the protection and pursuit of the common good and that the right to quality education which fosters the intellectual, moral and social capacities of all learners including their abilities to work together and transform the world with empathy, compassion and care, then we need to create conditions in which their teachers can do the same. This will involve building the capacities of teachers to lay the foundations for flourishing, divergent futures of education as well as new approaches to teachers’ professional learning and the improvement of practice.
This paper presents findings from a qualitative, empirical study exploring teachers’ experiences of’ professional learning and collaborative and cooperative pedagogic practices guided by key ideas and concepts in arts-based educational research (ABER) (Barone and Eisner, 2012). Following Eisner (1993), the central argument here is that human experience and educational research can and should be represented through the wide variety of media at our disposal on the grounds that different forms of representation are both constrained and made possible by the form or medium we choose to use .
The purpose of ABER is to raise as yet unasked questions and to harness the power of the expressive properties of the arts to develop and deepen teachers' social and emotional learning and extend the collaborative and cooperative improvement of pedagogic practice in ways which encourage teachers and learners to produce knowledge while also developing their capacity to critique it. The aim of this study in ABER is to uncover if/how the use of visual and other forms of art and aesthetic experience can mediate the acquisition and development of teachers’ understanding, use and development of theories, concepts, and practice in educational research.
A further aim is to identify aesthetic pedagogic principles and pedagogic practices which may be of interest and use to a wider audience of teacher-educators and others involved in supporting the improvement of educational practice through educational research. The processes and stages in which the theories, concepts and practices underpinning educational research, academic writing and scholarship are understood and developed by teachers are chronicled as they learn how to conduct systematic and rigorous educational research into their own practice.
Set in the context of the national Practitioner Research Programme (PRP) funded by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) in England and directed and delivered by the University of Sunderland, this study presents and analyzes 10 teacher accounts of experiences of ABER collected in semi-structured interviews. It also draws upon other sources of data including field notes gathered from working with 50 PRP participants as part of their research training. Student evaluations over a two year period are also thematically analyzed and critically discussed (Nowell at al, 2017). These analyses of teachers; experiences of learning to become and knowing how to be (savoir être) a good teacher/educational researcher begin to bring new pedagogic practices and possible educational futures into view.

Key Words: educational values; teacher education; professional learning; pedagogic practices; arts based education; educational evaluation and improvement.

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Uncontrolled Keywords: educational values; teacher education; professional learning; pedagogic practices; arts based education; educational evaluation and improvement
Depositing User: Daniel Gregson


Item ID: 16194

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Daniel Gregson: ORCID iD
ORCID for Margaret Gregson: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 16:36
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2023 16:46


Author: Daniel Gregson ORCID iD
Author: Margaret Gregson ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Education


Education > Educational Research
Education > Further Education

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