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Transforming identity through arts-informed, collaborative learning and reflection: case study of a Masters programme in innovation, creativity and leadership

Kernan, M. A. (2015). Transforming identity through arts-informed, collaborative learning and reflection: case study of a Masters programme in innovation, creativity and leadership. In: Spender, J. C., Schiuma, G. & Albino, V. (Eds.), Culture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Connecting the knowledge dots. (pp. 2038-2047). Arts for Business Institute, University of Basilicata..


This paper and the associate conference presentation review the initial findings of a PhD study in Professional Education, a mixed method, interdisciplinary project which aims to contribute to research on interdisciplinary pedagogy related to both teaching and enabling creativity. The research focuses on Creativity and the Creative Industries, the final module of City University London’s Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL), an interdisciplinary Higher Education (HE) Masters designed for mature students with managerial experience. The module’s teaching includes collaborative, experiential arts workshops (eg drama, classical music, improvisation and art) to support the students’ group and individual artistic projects and final reflective journal and report.
The paper outlines these theoretical propositions which inform the study’s data analysis (Yin, 2008, p.18):
1) That the module’s learning processes are artistic, unfamiliar, disruptive, embodied experiences
2) That the students create an applied understanding of their learning through reflection and personal narrative
3) That critical incidents in the students’ personal narratives will be expressed through metaphors of personal and professional identity
4) That both narrative (eg James and Brookfield, 2014, p.106, citing Kűbler-Ross’s (1997) Change Curve) and personal change models (eg Heron, 1992, p. 122) will usefully inform the analysis.

The study’s primary analytical methodologies include content analysis (eg Charmaz, 2006), narrative analysis (Gregerson, 2013), thematic analysis (Van Manen, 2014) and critical incident analysis (Shiu, 2014) (Argyris, 1982; Bolton, 2014; Dewey, 1933; Downey & Clandinin, 2010; Dreyfus, 1996; James & Brookfield, 2014; King & Kitchener, 1994; McEwen et al., 2009; Merleau-Ponty, 1962/2002; Ricoeur, 2007; Schön, 1983, 1987). The research approach is consistent with work on threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003), theory which links identity and narrative (eg Bruner, 2002; Boyd, 2009; Downey& Clandinin, 2010; Gottschall, 2012; Herman, 2013; McGilchrist, 2009) and arts-based and creativity research (eg Amabile, 1983; Bateson & Martin, 2015; Gregerson et al., 2013; Shiu, 2014; Sayer, 2012).

The paper acknowledges the need for a reflexive approach, especially in HE and artistic contexts (eg Brookfield, 2010; Fleming, 2012; Foucault, 1980; Freire, 1970; Mezirow, 1998, 2000), as well as the risks of drawing broader lessons from a case study (Cohen, 2010; Yin, 2013). Consistent with this Track’s theme of ‘rattling’ HE and organisational development through the application of arts-based initiatives, I conclude by discussing whether shifts in the students’ narratives through the MICL programme and this might can be related to their personal and professional identities; and the degree to which these might in turn promote sustained impacts on their inter- and intrapersonal competence and self-efficacy.

Publication Type: Book Section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > English, Publishing & Creative Writing
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