International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Squeezed Middle: An Exploration of Creativity, Conformity and Social Class on the Academic Achievement of Undergraduate Students within a UK Art School (pages 345–351)

Volume 32.3   2013

Jackson, MARK


Over the past decade, a wealth of UK government initiatives have provided opportunities for higher education institutions to increase student numbers by engaging more with defined groups of students who do not traditionally participate in post compulsory education. Within the creative arts subjects, the success of these politically sensitive initiatives, however, also serves to highlight the growing frustrations of another group of students who show little progress in their achievement during their time at university. These students have a relatively successful school exam profile, are rarely identified as requiring any additional teaching support, maintain an excellent record of attendance and yet rarely achieve the highest assessment grades. Using data collected from a university design department over the past 5 years supported by interviews with current students, this article explores how the cultural behaviours frequently associated as advantageous to emotional welfare may become increasing problematic in an art and design education culture that celebrates creativity, risk taking and ambiguity.