Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Curator and Critic: Role of the Assessor in Aesthetic Fields

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Curator and Critic: Role of the Assessor in Aesthetic Fields

Article excerpt

Abstract

Assessment in aesthetic fields presents a myriad of challenges in the higher education environment. This paper uses a metaphorical representation to explore the role of assessors within aesthetic assessment settings in higher education. It begins with a discussion of aesthetic fields and an exploration of the role of assessment in this area. Following this, the relationship between teachers and learners in aesthetic assessment settings is explored, as are some of the tensions that accompany assessment in aesthetic fields. This paper reports on a narrative and ethnographic study that explores the role of assessors in the context of aesthetically rich assessment tasks. The study, which uses five participants teaching in higher education settings, arrives at a metaphor which likens the assessors' role to that of an artistic curator or art critic. The students' place within that metaphor is also explored. Finally, conclusions are drawn about the nature of assessment in aesthetic fields and areas for further investigation identified.

Keywords: aesthetic education, assessment, aesthetic assessment, higher education

1. Introduction

After you have introduced 'the problem and have developed the background material, explain your approach to solving the problem. In empirical studies, this usually involves stating your hypotheses or specific question and describing how these were derived from theory or are logically connected to previous data and argumentation. Clearly develop the rationale for each. Also, if you have some hypotheses or questions that are central to your purpose and others that are secondary or exploratory, state this prioritization. Explain how the research design permits the inferences needed to examine the hypothesis or provide estimates in answer to the question. Education can be an effective vehicle for the development of inter and intrapersonal skills, social and cultural action, self-expression and aesthetic awareness (Jacobs, 2009). The inclusion of 'aesthetic awareness' within this collection may be surprising to some. Aesthetic awareness is both a process and a product that allows learning to become aesthetically knowledgeable, or allows the learner to be open to engaging in aesthetic experiences. However, assessment in aesthetic fields presents a myriad of challenges in the higher education environment. This paper uses a metaphorical representation to explore the role of assessors in aesthetic assessment settings in higher education. To begin, a discussion of aesthetic fields is necessary, as is an exploration of the role of assessment in this area. The relationship between teachers and learners in aesthetic assessment settings is explored, as are some of the tensions that accompany assessment in aesthetic fields. The paper then explores a narrative and ethnographic study aesthetically rich assessment tasks using the voices of the educators who facilitate them. The study arrives a metaphor which likens the assessor's role to that of an artistic curator or art critic and explores the students' place within that metaphor. Finally, a summary of the paper points to areas for possible further investigation.

2. Aesthetic Learning

The inclusion of aesthetic understandings in education has long been advocated for. Dewey (1934) advocated for conscious involvement with aesthetics making a differentiation between 'aesthetic' and 'everyday' experiences. Eisner (1985) also states that aesthetic awareness provides an important lens on experience, a way of seeing that transcends the instrumental and disciplinary approaches where we are able to "learn from aesthetically rendered lives what words, paradoxically, can never say" (p. 35). It is not the intention of this paper to engage in a debate on the definition of aesthetics, as can be explored in numerous other literature (for example, Hekkert & Leder, 2007; Donoghue, 2003; Sternberg, Kaufman, & Pretz, 2002; Greene, 1999 to name a few) and this research acknowledges the many conceptions of aesthetic education that also exist (Peters, Marginson and Murphy 2009; Gale, 2005; Smith & Simpson, 1991). …

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