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Staff Profile

John Knowles

Postgraduate Researcher

I have a Diploma in Art & Design from Stourbridge College of Art, a Certificate in Education from Birmingham University and an Art Teacher’s Diploma from Birmingham Polytechnic. I have worked in schools, adult education, FE and HE, and as a research officer in children’s social care. On retiring I completed an MA by research at Huddersfield University, looking at art teachers’ professional identities and attitudes to promotion, I then started my part time PhD journey at York St John University.


Title: The role of the art and design foundation course in its graduates’ personal and professional development: a narrative study.

The art and design foundation course is an anomaly in British education: it is a one year course taken between sixth form or college and entry to degree level art courses. The course is intended to allow students the opportunity to explore the many specialist areas of art and design, to assist them in diagnosing which area they are most interested in, and to prepare a portfolio of work ready for interviews for courses in their chosen specialism.
This research seeks to investigate and understand how graduates from art foundation courses have been influenced by the course and the role it may play in students’ development as creative individuals, in how they perceive, establish and develop their identities as artists or designers into their subsequent degree programmes and on into their careers, and the narratives these gave rise to. The principal focus was on the artists and designers recalling experience and involved them in reflecting on their creative lives.

Supervisors: Dr Tony Leach, Professor Matthew Clarke and Dr Rebekka Kill.

Research Interests: Tertiary art education, creative careers, identity theory, narrative enquiry as methodology, life history interviewing including the use of participant generated images, social constructionism, Bourdieu (especially illusio).


Publications and Conferences

Knowles, J. (2017) Using images in life history interviewing with art and design professionals. Paper presented at York St John University PGR Colloquium (Education, Languages, Linguistics) (7 April 2017)

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