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NEW! Guest Seminar

Arts-Informed Research

Presenters: Ardra Cole & Gary Knowles, University of Toronto

Respondent: Robyn Ewing, The University of Sydney

Time: 4:30-6:30pm, 7 May 2009 (refreshments at 4:30pm for 5:00pm start)

Venue: 351, Education Building (A35), The University of Sydney

Drawing on the arts, transforming research: Possibilities of arts-informed perspectives, by Ardra Cole & Gary Knowles

An exploration of the possibilities for and challenges of arts-informed research is the focus of the presentation. We begin by recounting the beginnings and foundational elements of arts-informed research and illustrate the various ways in which it is embraced by a variety of qualitative researchers (as a stand-alone approach or in combination with other per-spectives). We emphasize the transformational possibilities that come with presenting scholarship in alternatives ways to traditional academic discourse. The barriers and challenges to researching through the arts are also addressed. We illus-trate and provide examples within our presentation from the work of graduate researchers and others and, in doing so, we address the utility and constraints of arts-informed research.

Response, by Robyn Ewing

As with other innovative approaches and methodologies, there have been lively debates about rigour, authenticity and appropriateness. This response seeks to take the discussion further. It particularly cites several recent teacher education research projects undertaken by staff and research higher degree graduates in the Faculty to demonstrate how research using Arts-informed inquiry can offer new understandings about some of the liminal (Conroy, 2002) issues in professional education.

About presenters

Ardra L. Cole and J. Gary Knowles are both Professors of Creative Inquiry and Adult Learning within the Program of Adult Educa-tion and Community Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. They also are Co-directors of the Centre for Arts-informed Research (CAIR) in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology. Ardra and Gary have published extensively on life history, reflexive, and arts-informed research as well as in the area of teacher education and development. Their co-authored books include: Through Preservice Teachers’ Eyes: Exploring Field Experiences through Narrative and Inquiry (Macmillan); Researching Teaching: Exploring Teacher Development through Reflexive Inquiry (Allyn & Bacon); The Heart of the Matter: Teacher Educators and Teacher Education Reform (Caddo Gap Press); and Lives in Context: The Art of Life History Re-search (AltaMira Press). Ardra and Gary are the co-editors of the recently published International Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples, and Issues (Sage) with Chapter 5 of that volume focusing specifically on arts-informed research. They are also co-editors of The Arts-informed Inquiry Series (Series Editor, J. Gary Knowles) which includes: The Art of Writing Inquiry (2001); Provoked by Art (2004); The Art of Visual Inquiry (2007); and Creating Scholartistry (2008) (Backalong Books and CAIR). Ardra and Gary have each helped many graduate students complete arts-informed doctoral and Master's degree theses embodying poetic, fictional, performative, and visual arts inquiry processes and forms to address educational and social issues.

Some of Gary's other coauthored books include: Emerging as a Teacher (Routledge), and Home Schooling: Parents as Educators (Corwin Press). His more recent inquiry work involves high school students from Ontario and Newfoundland, Canada, portraying ex-periences of school and community through photography and narrative. A water media visual artist, Gary has exhibited in several South Pacific countries as well as in the United States of America and Canada. Notions of sense of place, of self-on-the land, and self in place were at the heart of his earlier work in Australasia as an outdoor educator and in his work as a co-director of I-land gallery (a one-time Toronto contemporary art gallery).

Ardra has published extensively in conventional and non-conventional academic prose and in alternative, scholarly, non-print media throughout her career as a teacher educator and qualitative research methodologist. Ardra’s ongoing research (with Maura McIntyre) on care and caregiving and Alzheimer’s disease involves multi-media installation, performance, and the World Wide Web (http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/research/mappingcare). Ardra is also a productive fibre artist (using knitted and felted wool) and delights in making found seashore jewellery. She is at home on the rugged South Shore of Nova Scotia.

Professor Robyn Ewing is acting dean of the faculty. She teaches in the areas of curriculum, English and drama, working with both undergraduate and postgraduate students. In the areas of English and the arts, Robyn's research has particularly focused on the use of drama as quality pedagogy with authentic texts to develop students' critical literacies.

Session archive

  • Session recording MP3 (85MB)
  • Presentation slides PDF (20MB)

Some references & recommended readings

  • Centre for Arts-Informed Research publications: URL (see the Arts-informed Inquiry Series and the Scholartistry Series)
  • Cole, A. L., & Knowles, J. G. (2008). Arts-informed Research, in J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples, and Issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Ewing, R. Hughes. J. (2008) Arts-Informed Inquiry in Teacher Education: Contesting the Myths. European Educational Research Journal, Volume 7 Number 4, pages 512-522, doi: 10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.512