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Using visual and spatial activities to support school staff and students in thinking about learning in a changed space.

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Pamela Woolner, Professor Jill ClarkORCiD, Ulrike Thomas


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Physical settings in schools have a complex relationship to the teaching and learning practices that take place in them. Changing the physical environment can be stressful and does not always lead to changes in practices. This can result in a mismatch between setting and practice, where the setting hinders, rather than supports, the learning and teaching. It has been suggested that better preparation of staff and students, involving more active participation and engagement with the change, may be helpful in avoiding this outcome. Previous work has successfully used participatory visual research methods to mediate and initiate discussions about experiences of education with adults and children. This paper considers the impact of using such approaches with teaching staff and school students as part of preparation for a new secondary school building where it is anticipated that different learning and teaching practices will be appropriate. We will consider the practical issues around using such methods and suggestions of their success in facilitating the participation of a range of teaching staff from differing subject areas and differing degrees of enthusiasm for changing practices. It will be important to consider how the visual methods particularly contribute to the process and to reflect on their facility in providing us with a better understanding of how staff and students experience education in this school.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woolner P, Clark J, Thomas U

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 2nd International Visual Methods Conference

Year of Conference: 2011