'Crystallisation’: Exploring the development of student teacher thinking through an arts-based research lens

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


This research stems from the stance that teaching is an art form (Eisner, 1983): a complex undertaking requiring multiple ways of thinking and doing; that it is underpinned by thought and decision making acquired through careful intertwining of theory, experience, and reflection. It is more than a delivery system of knowledge and technique (Palmer, 2007).
How might we support student teachers to acquire such sophisticated teacher thinking skills and to use them with confidence? Which approaches support such development, with depth of thinking and understanding of this complexity at its core?

This arts-based study focuses on the impact of a multi-modal ‘child study’ project that student teachers undertake, exploring their beginning acquisition of teacherly thinking through the research lens of ‘crystallisation’ (Richardson, 2005). Richardson’s crystallisation methodology highlights multiple approaches to interpretation, the value of ‘knowing more and doubting what we know’, and associates this with rich forms of arts-based data collection and analysis to develop thinking.

Furthermore, building on my hybrid role as an artist-educator-researcher, my own analysis of the impact of the child study project on student teachers’ thinking echoes the very crystallisation approach that it is exploring. Immersion in a similar multi-modal process offers possibilities for a deeper understanding of the approach (Greenwood, 2012). Thus, the crystallisation metaphor has a dual purpose: it is a lens through which student teachers begin to understand the child and develop complex ways of thinking in doing so; and it is the lens through which teacher-educators can begin to understand the student teacher learning process.

The first stage of data analysis was conducted using a qualitative content analysis, where the coding and the categories emerged or flowed from the data. In the second (ongoing) stage, a purposefully slow build-up of understanding around key themes is arrived at through arts-based approaches, comparable to an artist’s exploratory approach to creating a body of work around a theme or interest. The first output from this research, focused on useful ways of thinking for teachers, was shared with delegates at the conference.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2023
EventTEAN (Teacher Education Advancement Network) conference 2023 - England, Manchester
Duration: 11 May 202312 May 2023


ConferenceTEAN (Teacher Education Advancement Network) conference 2023

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