I integrate collaboration, reflection and analysis into the practice-based research methods I use in my teaching. Collaboration in teaching enhances my own critical reflection of the effects of teaching because instructors who reflect on their work “simultaneously engage in teaching and learning”—teaching their students; learning about their teaching practice—which in turn “echoes the quality of creative activity in art and design” (Schön 16). Another example of how I can demonstrate this in pedagogical examples is in my use of engaged learning in the Coordinated Arts Program/Bachelor of Media Studies Stream-Wide Community Engaged Learning Component.
Since 2014, I have taught a section of VISA110 in the Coordinated Arts Program (CAP), Media Studies stream, which is also the first year of the Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS) program. Like our students, CAP faculty see themselves as belonging to a cohort: we find and develop connections to cultivate a collaborative pedagogy that advances program-level outcomes in a “negotiated collaboration” (Malnarich and Lardner) providing channels of engagement for our students to make cross-disciplinary connections (Huber et al. 4).
One of the priorities of the BMS degree is to provide community-engaged learning in all four years of the degree. In the first two years of the BMS program, I was the project lead for the community-engaged learning experiences for first-year Media Studies CAP students. I facilitated just under 100 students’ community-engaged learning experiences while coordinating with my CAP colleagues and our community partners. The Media Studies CAP stream includes courses in Arts Studies, Creative Writing, Film Studies, Journalism, and VISA. Faculty meet regularly to plan our courses to create cross-disciplinary links, which we achieve through joint activities and team-taught classes. The multi-disciplinary spaces of the stream were cultivated to approach a single experiential learning opportunity through many disciplinary lenses.
The following is a narrative of two years of collaborating in engaged learning experiences in the Coordinated Arts Program/Bachelor of Media Studies cohort of 100 students. Between two to three different disciplines, we approached one engaged experience.
Pilot in first-year Media Studies CAP Stream – LOVE BC (2014)
The first integration of engaged learning in the first-year Media Studies stream worked with Leave Out Violence BC (LOVE BC), who deliver youth-driven arts-based violence prevention and intervention programming to youth who face multiple barriers. Students engaged in a workshop by LOVE BC in their Arts Studies classes, after which they wrote interview questions for LOVE BC in conjunction with their appropriation project in VISA 110. Then, I gave each of the 5 labs in VISA 110 a topic—poverty, immigration, relationships, etc—that the students would research. Students gathered and analyzed examples of conventional ways these topics are represented in popular culture, then as a group dissect the examples and find ways to appropriate the conventional images into new generative works that posed new questions about media representation of their assigned subject area. This artwork was then featured in a team-taught lectures and a written reflection activity, enabling students to articulate their realizations about the different disciplinary approaches to the topics. As is my usual practice, I ran an assessment after the project was completed, after which I determined that the subject area—representations of violence—was perhaps too hefty for first-year students, and that students would benefit from my spreading out reflection activities across the term and in different classes.
Revisions in first-year Media Studies CAP Stream – New Media Gallery (2015)
In the second iteration of this engaged learning opportunity, we worked with the New Media Gallery in New Westminster in a creative collaboration on their exhibition 5600K: Temperature of White, which featured three contemporary works activating the physiology of light. The curators of the gallery, Sarah Joyce and Gordon Duggan, gave the students a guided tour of the exhibition, followed by a curatorial talk on the semantics of “new media” and how they filter through the impositions of the terminology in their role as curators to rethink conventional definitions. The experience was incorporated into curriculum of the students’ Arts Studies and Visual Art courses. One of the Arts Studies instructors asked her students to draw on an exhibit work to support, challenge, or extend a theoretical concept identified in one of their required readings, the other instructor integrated considerations of the artworks in discussions of readings on performativity, subjectivity and bodily activations in a social justice lens. In my VISA 110 class, I asked my students to bring together the New Media Gallery curator talk and exhibition into two new artworks that incorporated appropriated still and moving imagery. Their assignment was to discursively unfold the theory they had learned in a visual conversation that brought new meaning to images that had been decontextualized from their originary connotations. Best practice in community-engaged learning is to engage students in reflection to help them to make meaning of their experience and to self-assess their learning in multiple disciplines. We shared many of the students’ projects with the New Media Gallery, with the students’ permission, which the curators used in their social media and promotional materials as a way to continue activation of the exhibition—a valuable exchange for both the student and the community partner.