Foundations of a Bricolage Method: Using Learning Stories for the Co-production of Curriculum Design, Impacting Experiences of Learning Difference within Higher Education

  • Emma Wheeler University of South Wales
Keywords: participatory action research, foundation year, higher education, learning, teaching, stories, bricolage, reflective, critical pedagogy, narrative, dyslexia, art psychotherapy, reflexivity


This paper presents early stage research activities, including observations of one woman’s creative process investigating her own experiences of dyslexia. A bricolage research method allows for emergent and responsive approaches to discovering potentially new Higher Education ‘classroom-based’ teaching methods which may work effectively and inclusively for differing learning needs. Book-making and story-telling are utilised in a project inquiring into learning and related emotional and behavioural landscapes. The planning process for gathering narratives, presenting, developing collaborations and making use of participatory action research strategies are described. The project offers empowerment of practice through working with students as partners, as well as offering the opportunity for wider staff development and for student development through reflective activity and co-production.  It is hoped that individual stories may shape learning for all, seeking to act as an agent of change. Theoretical frameworks are drawn from critical education concepts and art psychotherapy practice.


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Author Biography

Emma Wheeler, University of South Wales

Emma is a Foundation Year social science tutor, leading the “Childhood Studies” and “Principles of Youth and Community Work” modules at the University of South Wales.  She has taught for 25 years, initially in primary schools, specialising in the creative arts curriculum and later facilitating educational and therapeutic groups with adults and young people in various community settings. Emma has extensive voluntary sector experience, working with people affected by domestic violence, homelessness and deprivation.  She founded Skomer Art in 2009, to facilitate arts and health practice, and more recently has trained as an art psychotherapist, working outdoors where possible.  Her current research investigates empowerment concepts in different environments, her philosophy espousing the principles and dialogue of critical education. or