Developing critical thinking and professional identity in the arts through story

Norton, Frances ORCID logoORCID: (2020) Developing critical thinking and professional identity in the arts through story. In: Practice-Focused Research in Further Adult and Vocational Education : Shifting Horizons of Educational Practice, Theory and Research. Palgrave Macmillan.


This chapter presents an account of a practice-focused research study conducted in an arts education college in England. Narrative inquiry (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000) informed both the methodology and the collection and analyse the data. The study explores direct experiences using story, critical dialogue and narrative inquiry in a Community of Enquiry (Lipman, 2003). The intent is to encourage students of the arts to think critically and creatively, improving their motivation to read and write about the arts. A secondary aim of the study is to explore the formation and identity of the artist. The study is essentially an attempt to fuse horizons of educational research and practice (Scott and Usher 1996, pp.21-22) through practice-focused research. It reports the findings of two pedagogical interventions. The first intervention, designed as a Diary Project, asked students to keep a diary of their experiences of the critical thinking interventions used in the study and to reflect upon and present an account of these experiences, including any changes in their ways of thinking, as they engaged in critical thinking interventions. The second intervention took the form of a Book Club where students, lecturers, and other education practitioners met each week to discuss narrative accounts of the lives of artists. An overarching Community of Enquiry (Lipman, 2003) was used to structure and facilitate critical dialogue across the interventions.

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