STUDIO CONSTRUCTS FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING

C.M. Magee

The George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development (UNITED STATES)
This qualitative research study was prompted by the global necessity for education to focus upon the development of collaborative problem solving skills to address issues facing the human race that transcend culture and geography Issues of a global economy, caring for the environment, solving issues of hunger and disease and the quest for peaceful means for settling disputes all require a movement away from industrial-based education to collaborative-information based education. The objectives of this research study were to formulate a theoretical framework, understand the environmental factors and teacher dispositions necessary to create a studio learning environment for all subject content areas that fosters high level critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary for students to become engaged in addressing the issues of a global society. The study focused on an arts-based pre-school inspired by Reggio Emilia and a science-based studio used for teaching physics in a higher education classroom at MIT. A multi-faceted theoretical lens was constructed to analyze data blending: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the ethics of caring, Studio Thinking Frameworks, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The study took place over the course of a semester, using observation and interview to gain a holistic understanding of studio that served as a foundation in to constructing a blended theory studio model. The study revealed that the studio environment is conducive to active problem solving at the earliest and the highest grade levels.

The emergent themes revealed through this research study found that studio classrooms support:
a) egalitarian practice in the classroom,
b) active individualized student-centered learning and engagement,
c) multiple ways of acquiring and applying knowledge
d) seamless embedding of accommodations and technology,
e) collaboration and community and,
f) comfort and caring.

This study is significant in showing that a studio model for teaching and learning can create an environment that is flexible in serving the needs of a diversity of students while supporting the acquisition of 21st Century learning skills that include higher level abstract thinking, critical thinking and problem solving.