The landscape of Higher Education in the UK and elsewhere is being rapidly and radically reconfigured amidst the changing contexts of mass education, market forces, technological advances and pedagogical innovation. The re/design and re/construction of old and new spaces is a key part of every university’s strategic planning and there has been an exponential growth in the development of new environments for teaching and learning. These developments have begun to be accompanied by a critical literature which examines the relationships between spatiality and pedagogy. However this literature tends to focus on an evaluation of new spaces and recent pedagogic trends, and neglects a historical dimension. As the recent work of Catherine Burke (2008) illustrates, current trends and initiatives have their roots in previous decades and debates, and historical enquiry is an important component of contemporary critical analysis. The proposed research aims to address this by examining the historical relationships between pedagogy, curriculum and space in Higher Education institutions using archival and oral history methodologies.
Research Methodology and Methods
Two key methods will be used: firstly, archival research will be carried out to identify both textual and visual documentation relating to classroom design. An online database of collected materials will be established. During this stage of the research key historical figures involved in either pedagogical or architectural developments will be identified, and where possible life-history interviews will be sought either with these people (if they are alive) or with others close to them.
The research is being carried out by undergraduate researchers working together in a collaborative team with other members of the Reinvention Centre. See the TEAM PAGE for further information.
The undergraduate students are trained and provided with support and supervision as the project progresses. The student researchers will form part of a larger team of students and academic staff working on an existing research project entitled Reinventing Spaces. This project examines the relationships between curriculum, pedagogy and space by means of sociological ethnographic research within university and secondary school sites.
The Research aims
The research has three key aims:
Research will begin in the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University on catalogues containing textual and visual documentation from the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals of The Universities of the United Kingdom (CVCP) and from Warwick University’s own archives. Researchers will then identify, with support, further relevant archives nationally. Equipment such as voice recorders will be provided by the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research.
Communication of Findings
The findings from the project will be communicated in the following ways:
The student researchers will also be encouraged to write up their findings for publication in a relevant journal (possibly ELISS or Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research) and/or co-author a piece for publication in History of Education journal. The findings will also contribute to outputs related to the wider Reinventing Spaces project and all student researchers will be involved and credited as appropriate.
Indicative Project Time-Frame (12 months)
Months 1 and 2:
Revisit and refine research aims and draw up detailed project plan.
Undertake background reading and training
Months 3 and 4
Begin archival research in MRC
Identify other sources for archival material
Months 5 and 6
Archival research and identification of possible interviewees
Background reading and training in oral history interviews
Months 8 and 9
Contact possible interviewees and arrange interview dates
Carry out interviews
Months 10 and 11
Transcription and analysis.
Exhibition and communication of findings