International Journal of Art & Design Education

Learning to Be: The Modelling of Art and Design Practice in University Art and Design Teaching

Volume 35.2   2016



Learning to be an artist or designer is a complex process of becoming. Much of the early phase of ‘learning to be’ occurs during the time emerging artists and designers are students in university art/design programmes, both undergraduate and postgraduate. Recent research reveals that a critical role in assisting students in their maturing identities as artists and designers is played by artist/designer-academics teaching in university art and design programmes. By maintaining active art/design practices and drawing from these in their teaching, artist/designer-academics model professional practice to students. Witnessing and interacting with such modelling is part of the process of students learning the shared discourses, views and practices of the art or design worlds to which they aspire to belong. The modelling of professional practice is critical to an artist or designer's ‘learning to be’ experience because it enables students to access the tacit and nuanced behaviours, languages and cultures that constitute contemporary art or design practice.
This article outlines findings from a recent Australian study revealing the role of professional practice modelling in university art/design teaching. It highlights the centrality of professional practice modelling to artist/designer-academics in their beliefs and approaches to teaching their academic disciplines. In critically exploring the research data and findings this article describes the role that modelling of practice plays and how it comprises a core part of the value that artist/designer-academic participants contribute to the teaching of art/design education.