Public arts as extra-curricular learning: A research based investigation into the potential of a contemporary art gallery to enhance the student learning experience
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This report summarises a Plymouth University -based research project which investigated in what ways the university contemporary arts gallery (Peninsula Arts) could potentially enhance the student learning experience. There is growing interest across the sector about the ways in which extra-curricular and campus-based learning opportunities are useful vehicles for students’ holistic educational development (Hopkinson et al. 2008; NASPA and ACPA 2004). This runs parallel to a developing understanding of the cultural and cognitive benefits of interaction with contemporary art, which purportedly include the encouragement of disciplinary and interdisciplinary understanding and improved meta-cognitive skills (Creative B 2010; Falk 2006). However, to date there is no work which consciously draws together these two areas and investigates the impacts of contemporary art on the student learning experience. This project addressed this effective gap by developing critical understandings of how students’ experience the gallery using Falk and Dierkings’ (2005) ‘contextual model of learning’ to encapsulate the determinants of constructivist learning within the free-choice learning environment of a gallery. This report provides a brief overview of our findings and presents recommendations for how links can be forged between curator and curriculum to engage students in the gallery and in contemporary art.
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