International Journal of Art & Design Education

Facilitating Meta-learning in Art and Design Education

Volume 30.1   2011



Art and design programmes are educationally unique in that students themselves play a central role in determining their own learning needs. To be successful in their study, art and design students are required to operate with a high degree of independence and self-direction. Developing the skills for greater self-reliance requires students to become aware of their conceptions of the subject of study, and of themselves as learners in a particular learning context. Developing greater self-awareness as a learner and becoming more independent in one's learning is captured by the concept of meta-learning.
In this article I present an alternative strategy to prevalent diagnostic approaches to assist in developing a student's capacity for meta-learning in the subject context of art and design. An inquiry cycle was created to provide a structure within which to facilitate generative thinking about learning through engaging with fundamental questions related to the subject of learning (art and design) rather than the learning subject (i.e. the student). This method represents a departure from existing approaches to engaging students in meta-learning. A pilot study used to trial the effectiveness of this strategy is also presented here. The inquiry map, and the conceptual base upon which it was developed, were found to be useful ways to structure reflective thinking about learning and to assist in developing a student's conception of the subject.