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  • Writer's picturePaul Proctor - Education

Research activities

Prior to working in the University sector, there was little opportunity to develop a research profile in FE in HE. In this sector, continual professional development is considered the way one remains current in teaching and one's subject area. My first postgraduate qualification was a Masters in Photographic Studies which enabled me to gain the knowledge and skills to apply to the role of Course Leader in Photography. As my career developed and became integrated into education though other roles, in 2005 I took on a postgraduate qualification in Art and Design in Education at the the Institute of Education, London. The course enabled me to gain a more in-depth understanding of pedagogical theories and approaches to learning. It was during this period that I developed an Interest in artefacts as educational resources which lead me to explore a number of artefacts displayed in the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. My essay, Where is the Photographic Artefact is a reflection on photographic imagery in the exhibition. I have since recognised the power of objects to initiate discussion and conversation with students and how to bring research into the teaching envionment in very direct and powerful ways. An example of this was a Holocaust Memorial Day activity that a colleague and I organised for students where we were fortunate to have a Holocaust survivor to deliver a witness testimony to the students in person. The talk was followed by short presentations from staff on related themes. Students responded to the day through a number of set projects around on the Holocaust. It is impossible to overstate how powerful this experience was and how profoundly the students responded.

During my time at IOE I developed an interest in informal learning environments; that is, environments where people gather, engage with one another and learn in unstructured ways. My final piece, 'Listening Posts' was an installation that comprised interviews of students at IOE talking about learning in informal environments. These interviews were then edited to for conversations which were made available in the concourse of the university building for people to listen to intimately through headphones. The project is just one example of a way to engage learners in content making that results in a collective experience that can then be used as a way to open up conversation about the majority of our learning; that is learning without formal teaching.

Since working in the university sector, I have been able to take advantage of the opportunities available to engage in research. This research has developed into two branches, that represents my bi-fold career, my own creative practice and therefore my teaching in photography, and my research in curriculum development, learning and teaching which informs my current role.

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