Discursivity and Creativity in Upper-Division Production Courses

Michael Filimowicz Veronika Tzankova

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Michael Filimowicz, School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Project team: Veronika Tzankova, research assistant

Timeframe: October 2012 to August 2013

Funding: $10,000

Final report: The report is available by request to Michael (mfa13@sfu.ca).

Description: The objective of this applied teaching research project is to present and enhance discursivity in upper-division creative production work within the specific context of the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT). In addition to further investigating and conceptualizing the relationship between creativity and discursivity, this project will include the practical application of the pedagogic pattern of rich questions and dialogue. Such an approach provides for (1) a safe and shared space for verbal feedback and constructive critique, as well as (2) relegating much of the material traditionally delivered in lectures into web-based delivery, creating an overall “blended” mode of instruction. This approach also addresses some of the systemic problems in our undergraduate curriculum that have been collectively identified by SIAT faculty. These problems can be summarized at the highest level as follows:

  • Weaknesses in digital craft (students’ technology skillsets need to be strengthened)
  • Weaknesses in students’ ability to critically understand and create discourse around their work

In my first Teaching and Learning Development Grant, I addressed some of the issues surrounding the first identified weakness (which I had defined as enhancing “case-based knowledge”) by introducing a major change in project format and feedback structure. From that study, I am extrapolating and formalizing the evaluative data toward some ideas for a model that may be generalizable across a greater range of courses within SIAT. Together, these two projects work toward addressing these two inter-related and systemic issues frequently identified within SIAT as in need of curricular attention.

Within the parameters of this new project, I aim to address the second issue – specifically, students' abilities to engage in and create discourse around their work. Here, I will focus on the question of discursivity within the context of creativity. As "discursivity” is a fairly broad term, the focus on creativity is meant to distinguish and establish the particular role of discourse in the context of production courses in a program with an overall professional orientation. An objective of this proposal is to better build discursivity into our production courses and explore the result of such an approach.

Questions addressed: The major research question addressed concerns the ways in which discursivity can be implemented into production courses and can contribute to students' practice and critical understanding of their creative work, with the following subquestions:

  • Will the application of the pedagogic pattern of rich questions and dialogue, combined with blended-mode delivery and integration of specific forms of discourse-engaging reading and writing activities improve the discursive and creative skills in upper-division SIAT students? In particular, will such a pedagogic intervention result in improved abilities of students to create discourse around their work?
  • What kinds of discursive activities (drawings, diagrams, journals, artist statements, pre-visualization, role playing) will engage students most effectively, and lead to demonstrable improvement in student project work?
  • What might constitute an appropriate range, scale, and scope of “discursive activities” and how best can they be connected to some of the key concepts and insights of creativity studies generally?
  • What kinds of readings will best engage students in support of the full range of course objectives and aimed-for learning outcomes? In particular, what kinds of readings do students perceive as “relevant” to their project work?

Knowledge sharing: The research summary will be made available across FCAT through the appropriate channels (e.g., emails to colleagues and departmental UCC chairs).

Filimowicz, M., & Tzankova, V. (Eds.). (2017). Teaching computational creativity.  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 

Filimowicz, M., & Tzankova, V. (2015). Discursivity and creativity: Implementing Pigrum's multi-mode transitional practices in upper division creative production courses. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 174, 483-490.

Filimowicz, M. A., & Tzankova, V. K. (2014). Discursivity and creativity: Implementing Pigrum’s multi-mode transitional practices in upper division creative production courses. Proceedings of the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET), pp. 142-150, Oshawa, ON.