A social model of learning constructed from the perceptions of marginalised art and design students
A social model of learning is proposed on the basis of findings from an investigation conducted in order to understand the learning experiences of some institutionally marginalised students within the art and design sector of post-16 British education. The research thus contributes to the growing body of generic knowledge about student experience and forms a significant addition to the limited number of studies of learning experience specific to art and design. The focus of research and the researcher's professional interest in art and design combine to determine an eclectic and researcher inclusive approach to the methodology. Juxtaposing institutional practice in post-16 art and design with theoretical precepts drawn from the wider field of education for adults shows that marginalisation is a social rather than academic phenomenon. It also reveals a paucity of studies about student learning experience in the sector, thereby providing a rationale for conducting a systematic investigation. Phenomenological analysis of accounts provided by marginalised students shows that they explicitly construct learning as a holistic experience of continuously coping with diverse practical circumstances and conflicting ideas in a dynamic of changing self-perceptions. On these grounds, the findings from this investigation are hypothesised as a social approach to learning. Following substantiation by juxtaposition with established theoretical positions and comparable studies of practice, the hypothesis is proposed as a social model of learning. It is argued that under current circumstances the approach of students hitherto marginalised in art and design is likely to become typical of most future students in the sector. Deploying the social model of learning in conjunction with the liberal apprenticeship model typical of art and design institutions would therefore enable the sector to respond more effectively and positively to challenges posed by the prevailing socio-economic circumstances and government imperatives to widen participation.