The problem of projects: reconceptualising the use of Project-based Learning in Media Practice Education
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
The study set out to investigate the use of project-based learning as a pedagogy in creative and media practice education courses In UK Higher Education. It aims to evaluate the role project-based learning plays in stimulating the development of capabilities for critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation and job-ready-ness. The study begins with an interdisciplinary evaluation of the situatedness of media practice that draws on notions of expertise and the use of service learning as a means of drawing real world learning into the curriculum. It then develops a philosophical reflection on the stance taken by students when undertaking project work, focusing on the recontextualisation that occurs when moving from the domain of professional project working to that of the education. There then follows a genealogical account of the concept of a project that argues for a shift away from models of management to models of practice and which posits a range of ontological modalities for project working; doing, being and becoming. The study argues that a becoming mode, in which the transformation of the subject is the primary goal, offers an experientially led account of project-based learning. Recognising that problems are the motor of projects the study concludes by drawing on participatory cartography as a visual research methodology in order to represent problem solving as a topological metaphor. In doing so the study was able to identify an important barrier to innovation among students engaged in creative project work, that of functional fixedness. The study concludes that a recognition of the unique ontological characteristics of project-based learning as social practice provides educators with a theoretical underpinning and an optimum or sufficient methodology for the use of project-based learning within a higher education.
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