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20 FEBRUARY 2013

What is Practitioner Based Enquiry?

"In practical terms PRE is a process in which teachers, tutors, lecturers and other education professionals systematically enquire into their own institutional practices in order to produce assessable reports and artefacts which are submitted for academic credits leading to the awarding of degrees, certificates and diplomas of universities, colleges and professional associations."

(Louis Murray and Brenda Lawrence, 2000, p.10)

Murray, L., & Lawrence, B. (2000). Practitioner–based enquiry: Principles for postgraduate research. London: Falmer Press.


2000 • an examination of the artefact • Brenda Lawrence • constructionist epistemology • creative activitycreative practice as researchcreative practitioner • enquiring into ones own practice • insiders perspective • intellectual autonomy • keeping field notes • knowledge on creativity • Louis Murray • making the objects • methodological approach • ones own creative practice • PBE • pedagogy research • Practitioner Based Enquiry • reflective journalreflective practiceresearch artefactsresearch in art and designresearch methodresearch reports • self-reflective • self-reflective approach • self-reflective examination • systematic approach • systematically enquire


Simon Perkins
21 MAY 2011

Effective and evocative research: difference through the form and outcomes of the iterative cycles and the type of feedback that informs the reflective process

"From the differences we have described, it might be assumed that the distinction between effective and evocative research is between the analytical and intuitive. However, it is important to note that, while analysis of the problem and context tends to come first in effective research, as in all research, it is intuition that leads to innovation. And, on the other hand, while evocative research may evolve intuitively through the interests, concerns and cultural preoccupations of the creative practitioner, it is rounded out and resolved by analytical insights.

Because of this combination of the intuitive and analytical, both ends of the spectrum may draw on bodies of theory such as Donald Schön's (1983) theories of reflective practice and principles of tacit knowledge and reflection–in–action, to frame an iterative development process. However, differences can be identified between the form and outcomes of the iterative cycles and the type of feedback that informs the reflective process.

In effective research, an iterative design process may involve an action research model and prototyping (paper prototype, rapid prototype, functional prototype and so on). Each iterative stage is evaluated through user testing by a representative group of end users (through quantitative or qualitative surveys or observations of use, for example). The purpose of this testing is to gauge the artifact's functionality, usability and efficacy. The gathered data informs changes and refinements in each cycle.

On the other hand, an artist might stage a number of preliminary exhibitions, but these are not staged to gather 'data', or to obtain successively closer approximations of a solution to a problem. Instead, they are part of an exploration of unfolding possibilities. Feedback might be sought from respected colleagues, and gathered in an informal setting (in the manner of a peer 'critique'). The purpose of gathering such insights is to allow the artist to reflect upon the project and its evocation and affect and to see their work through the insights of others, which may shed new light on the practice and its possibilities."

(Jillian Hamilton and Luke Jaaniste, 2009)

2). Hamilton, J. and L. Jaaniste (2009). "The Effective and the Evocative: Practice–led Research Approaches Across Art and Design". ACUADS: The Australian Council of University Art & Design Schools, Brisbane, Queensland, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University.



action research model • ACUADS • analysisanalytical processart and designartistic practice • Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools • conceptualisationcontextcreative practitioner • cultural preoccupations • data gatheringDonald Schon • effective research • evocative researchexegesisexhibitionsexploration of unfolding possibilitiesfeedbackfine artfunctional prototype • gathering insights • insightintuitionintuitiveiterative design processiterative developmentJillian Hamilton • Luke Jaaniste • observationpaper prototype • peer critique • postgraduate supervisionpractice-led research • problem analysis • prototypingqualitative methods • qualitative surveys • quantitativereflection-in-actionreflective practicereflective processresearch artefactresearch designtacit knowledgetestingtheory buildingvisual arts


Simon Perkins
28 APRIL 2011

Visual Directions: reflective writing (and the design process)

"Reflection is an ongoing process of thinking about your development in relation to your work. Reflective writing is both a record (description) and a review (analysis and evaluation) of your work. Reflective practice is a 'sorting out/clarifying process' (Moon 2004) giving you new perspectives on yourself and your work."

(University of the Arts London)



analysis and evaluation • artistic practiceblogging • Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design • Centres for Excellence in Teaching and LearningCETL • clarifying process • CLTAD • conceptualisation • Creative Learning in Practice • Creative Learning in Practice (CLIP) • creative practicecreative work • descriptive • design educationdesign processe-learningelearning • Jenny Moon • learning journalonline journalspedagogyreflectionreflectivereflective journalreflective practicereflective writingreviewsketchbook • sorting out • theory buildingthinking processUniversity of the Arts London (UAL)


Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2009

Knowledge creation and exchange within research: the exegesis approach

"The exegesis is developed from the knowledge that preceding and during the process of creating artefacts, research is a substantial part of this process. By bringing these two elements [creating and research] together, a new kind of didactic structure has been found in the curriculum of the EMMA: the exegesis. The impact lays both on the thesis and the individual project constituting a combination of fundamental based research and applied research, which we can define as practice based research. Theory and practice cannot be seen as separated parts. Theory and practice are partners of conversation who should be equally balanced. The intention is that the exegesis approach should contribute to a willingness to look beyond the immediate concerns of making an artefact; it should enhance an integration of ideas and results from the underlying research into the creation of the artefact. This will be a process of continuous modification and unification. The thesis is a kind of representation of the undertaken research that has been initiated to create the artefact. In our understanding the artefact is an illustration and shows research, the thesis underlies the artefact and describes the connection between the research and the product. The artefact is partly the outcome of the research and is as important as the accompanying thesis. This process can be defined as a circular process. A continue communication between the thesis and the individual project is typical of the exegesis.

4.2 The Exegesis in Practice

The exegesis has been developed to educate students how to define their research. At an institutional level the exegesis will show what kind of research has been done and which results has been reached. As earlier mentioned, the most important issue is the connection between the artefact and the thesis. The role of the artefact and the thesis will be supportive and complementary. The artefact will gain insight in the way in which methods of research have been used. In our understanding the knowledge gained on a design project should be reliable employed on other projects and should be involved continuously into design processes. That's why students have to collect al their results in a research folder, which consists of the following objectives:

* description of used methods;

* description of the purpose of applicability of the methods;

* description of the usage of the methods;

* reflection on the additional value of the methods.

The focus on the methods of research is to foster reorientation of attention and concerns in a meaningful way. Research is deeply embedded in creating design. The point is how to show the research and being aware of doing research. The thesis describes the methods of research, which have been used by creating the artefact, and is a reflective part of the design process. The research will consider how the artefact should be developed. Due to the connection of these two elements, students will have to be critically aware of the advantages research will offer them in creating their work. In the end the knowledge creation and exchange within research will be a continue mutual influence without boundaries. To make students aware of this, students should be triggered to be more interested in and enjoyed by the research part in showing that by doing research the project will be more grounded. The exegesis approach encourages students to expansive out–of–the–box thinking and will stimulate an inventive and an inquiring attitude."

(Thomassen, A. & M. v.Oudheusden, 2004)

Thomassen, A. & M. v.Oudheusden (2004). "Knowledge creation and exchange within research: the exegesis approach", Working Papers in Art and Design Vol 3 Retrieved from URL ISSN 1466–4917


2004applied researchartefactconceptualisation • critical exposition • design projectdiscovery • EMMA • enquiry • European Media Masters of Arts • exegesisexperimentationinsightinventionknowledgeout-of-the-boxreflective practiceresearchtheory and practicetheory buildingthesisWorking Papers in Art and Design


Simon Perkins
01 JUNE 2009

The problem with problems: recognising the intrinsic value of reflection

"For [Donald] Schön, reflective practice is always employed as a methodological approach to particular problems, arising from professional tensions – my work as a mining engineer and my moral obligation to indigenous knowing or the environment, my desire to heal and the politically motivated organisational changes in the health professions, my desire to produce innovative content in games and the 'safety–first' attitudes of transglobal publishers. For Schön, it is always the problem which motivates reflective practice, and it is always the solution which is its reward. For Schön, the activity of reflective practice is fraught with personal difficulty – identifying and acting on problems, and prizing and constellating around solutions. Structurally, Schön's thesis must always face difficulty and resistance, both from a cultural/sociological perspective (resisting the ascribed wisdom of the professions), and from a personal perspective (resisting the disempowerment of particular professionals). This resistance is first sought, and subsequently followed through the process of reflection: by being able to look inwardly and pay attention to the experience of self, we become aware of the incompatibilities of self and other. Schön suggests that it is only through a sustained and methodological attention to these incompatibilities, conflicts and contradictions that allows for the emergence of a more integrated and satisfying professional voice, and which allows for the transformation of one's professional context.

All of this makes reflection seem like very sober and dour stuff, but as any reflective practitioner will tell you, the process of reflection is often joyous, filled with delight, and a reward in itself. In creative work in particular, we consistently seek out and circle this difficult, yet shimmering surface of delight, aware that a concentration on practice is far more intimate and sure–footed than a concentration on the product. An obsession with ends tends to create a projective knowing or longing for outcomes and results and we become like Joyce's Mr Duffy, who ' lived at a little distance from his body'(Joyce, 1914, 119) . It is important to acknowledge that through sustained enquiry into the incompatibles, conflicts and contradictions we find the compatibilities and the delights as well. We find that which is thriving, useful, fresh, innovative and alive in our own practice, or in the practice of others. By taking on the work of continuing self–reflection, we make ourselves open to the unfamiliar, and become connoisseurs of our own emotion and experience. Even as reflection sometimes traces through painful and difficult paths, this process allows for a deeper professional and personal 'embeddedness' within conflicting and contradictory situations. For although contradictions arise, they need not bump into one another and be regarded as 'problems to be solved'. This problem centric approach seems inevitably to suggest nostalgia for the very stability which is resisted. Confusion, contradiction and incompatibility can be celebrated, as we allow ourselves to be extended through the endarkening process of allowing and admitting.

Schön's work emerges from an appreciation of the critical and political impasse of the individual within emergent forms of social organisation. While Schön's work is largely focused at organisational change, learning theory and the empowerment of the individual through its manifestation as a 'methodology for reflective practice', it does not overtly address the more systemic issues of production and consumption, and the relationship of the professional to the process of public deliberation. It is, true enough, that the professions were and are in crisis, and that they are constantly called to adapt their practices within an ever–changing landscape of professional activity, but the question of why and how this landscape has turned from stasis to flux is never systematically addressed. Schön's critics observe that although his approach 'substitutes responsive networks for traditional hierarchies, his theory of governance remains locked in top–down paternalism' (Smith, 2001). What is disquieting about the reflective practitioner, as proposed by Schön, is that they are seemingly in the dark about the joys inherent in reflection itself (by being ideologically bound to problems), and further cloistered by the complex trajectories of social, technological and political systems which consistently seek to refine and refigure the professions. Whereas Schön succeeds in re–animating the role of the individual professional, he displays a kind of paternal naiveté when approaching the crisis of the professions – reflection becomes like a panacea for the larger (and mostly disregarded) problems of inequity, including the role of labour, the decentralisation and mobilisation of capital and the continuing diversification and segmentation of symbolic exchange."

(Chris Barker, 2006)

Barker, Chris. (2006) The Changing Nature of Practice in a 'Networked Society'. Published in the proceedings for Speculation and Innovation: applying practice led research in the Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology

Joyce, James. (1914) Dubliners, London: Grant Richards.


2006action research • Chris Barker • enquiryJames Joycemethodologynetwork societyproblem centric approach • problems • professionsQUTreflective practicereflective practitionerspeculation and innovation • SPIN • theory • traditional hierarchies


Simon Perkins

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