Author: Dick Downing and Emily Lamont with Mike Newby
Institution: NFER (Sponsored by Esmée Fairbairn)
Full reference: Downing, D. and Lamont, E. with Newby, M.(2007). HEARTS: Higher Education, the Arts and Schools: an Experiment in Educating Teachers. Slough: NFER.
HEARTS (Higher Education, the Arts and Schools) project was established with the intention of strengthening the arts element of initial training of primary school teachers.
The HEARTS members came from two major charitable trusts (the Esmée Fairbairn and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundations), each with a long standing interest in both the arts and education; and from a university-based Faculty of Education in the person of its Dean. A project manager and an evaluator (NFER) were invited to join them. During the academic years 2004/6, six higher education institutions were given financial and practical support to introduce new programmes of arts work into their curricula.
Key findings included
A key outcome for students was around an enhanced awareness of creativity. This emerged in two distinctive ways. First, despite some initially negative perceptions of their own abilities, students came to recognise their own creativity, or a rekindling of latent skills. Tutors observed how students began to engage in their own artistic activities and how the contact with practising artists challenged their creative abilities. Tutors also cited cases of broadened thinking and creative ideas in subsequent work and in the HEARTS assessment.
Second, students reported a better understanding of creativity as a concept. For example, some said that they ‘learned to embrace creativity’ and discovered how to be more creative in school.
As part of the ongoing evaluation of HEARTS, the NfER scheduled visits to each of the participating university departments of education. The first visits took place during November and December 2004, approximately six months after the planning residential. Second visits took place in July 2005 and focused largely on the emergent outcomes of the three projects (see section 4).
Visits were designed, as far as possible, to provide the opportunity to speak to the following stakeholders:
Evidence in this report has been drawn from NFER interviews with students, tutors and senior staff members at each university department of education and from internal university department of education evaluations.