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

'I always wanted to be creative': Post-Access to HE Art and Design Students, Phronesis and Democratic Education

Broadhead, Samantha Jane (2016) 'I always wanted to be creative': Post-Access to HE Art and Design Students, Phronesis and Democratic Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


The thesis drew upon the findings of a longitudinal study about post- Access to HE students’ experiences as they undertook their degrees in art and design. It used the theoretical frameworks developed by Basil Bernstein alongside Aristotle’s notion of phronesis or practical wisdom to analyse the data. Through narrative inquiry (Andrews, 2014; Butler- Kisber, 2010; Clandinin and Connelly, 2004) it has been possible to show that these students used continuous reflexivity and practical wisdom in order to meet both the demands of the degree programme and those of their families. At the same time they were pursuing the dream of becoming an artist or designer; seeing this as part of living a good life.
The key research questions were firstly; did post-Access to HE students receive a democratic education as defined by Basil Bernstein (2000) when they studied in art and design higher education? Secondly, were post-Access to HE students able to draw upon their practical wisdom in order to act well for themselves and others whilst studying their degrees in art and design? And finally did receiving a democratic education also entail students as well staff being able to deliberate wisely according to their previous experiences and practical wisdom? The institutions where the students studied appeared to be mostly inflexible so that the post- Access students had to be adaptable and responsive in order to achieve excellence in their art and design work. The imagined future was an important strand of the students’ stories. In this future the aim was to be paid for creative work whist paying off the student loan. The degree was seen, in some cases, as being instrumental in gaining employment in the

art and design industry and not an end in itself. Some students began making external links in their first year with a view to gaining experience for the future. Post-Access to HE students did not always enjoy their academic achievements due to worry and self-doubt coming from a perception that they were different from the other students in their cohort. It was found that some aspects of art and design pedagogy positioned mature students as ‘other’. However, on occasion all mature and younger students drew upon their past experiences and character to act well on their degrees for themselves and others; often through generous acts of friendship. This was sometimes stymied by the managerialism of the institution so students did not always maintain or develop self- confidence; feel included or participate politically in their education (important facets of Bernstein’s democratic education).

Final PhD Submission May-June 2016 Broadhead S 'I always wanted to be creative'.pdf

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Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 6585

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Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2016 10:39
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2021 02:38


Author: Samantha Jane Broadhead

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