Contemporary Art as Extra-curricular Learning: Lessons from a University Art Gallery

By Jennie Winter, Sarah Chapman and Karen Treasure.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

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This paper reports on a UK based research project which investigated how a University –based contemporary arts gallery could potentially enhance the student learning experience. There has been limited research that considers the impacts of university public arts programmes on staff or students, neither is there much in the way of guidance available for developing interpretation specifically for a multi-disciplinary university-based student population. However, there is a growing ‘creative campus’ movement originating from the US which recognises both the utility and cultural value of Arts programmes for encouraging disciplinary and interdisciplinary understanding, meta-cognitive skills and the utility of different media for communicating ideas (Creative B 2010; Falk 2006). This project proposed to address this effective gap by developing critical understandings of how students’ experience the gallery using Falk and Dierking’s (2005) ‘contextual model of learning’ to encapsulate the determinants of constructivist learning within the free-choice learning environment of the gallery. The paper reports on our findings and makes recommendations for how contemporary art exhibitions in universities can be curated and opportunities for learning created so that students from different disciplines are best able to engage.

Creative B (2010) Creative Campus. Available from:
Falk, J. (2004) The director’s cut:towards an improved understanding of learning from museums. Wiley InterScience. PpS83-S96
Falk, J. (2005) Free choice environmental learning: framing the discussion. Environmental Education Research. Pp 265-280

Keywords: Extra-curricular Learning, Contemporary Art, Free-choice Learning, Student Experience, Student Learning

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 10, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.29-41. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 731.100KB).

Dr. Jennie Winter

Educational Developer, Teaching and Learning Directorate, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK

Dr. Sarah Chapman

Director of Peninsula Arts, Peninsula Arts Public Arts Programme, Plymouth University, Plymouth, Devon, UK

Karen Treasure

Lecturer, Department of International Relations, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK