The Teaching and Learning project began in one of my photography classrooms. I wanted to give my students the experience of seeing a long-term project through from beginning to end, as much as they could do within the confines of one semester. “End” in this case meant the dissemination of results in either an exhibition or publication of photographs. I introduced the Teaching and Learning project as an option and proposed my students and I work on this photographic essay together.
Student-faculty collaborative projects like Teaching and Learning are commonly discussed as undergraduate research. The Council on Undergraduate Research defines this teaching practice as “inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” These projects are always conducted within the context of a student’s education, overseen by a faculty member and frequently involve students working collaboratively with their instructor. This kind of teaching and learning experience is most often associated with graduate education. Its value in that context has resulted in its more frequent use in undergraduate classrooms. You can read more about undergraduate research as a teaching tool on CUR’s website: http://www.cur.org.
The photographs you see on this page were made by my students, during the first semester of the project in 2005. Student photographs depict the many sides of undergraduate education not immediately seen by the general public. My images likewise strive to visualize those three aspects of faculty work (teaching, service and scholarship) not commonly understood. The images shared between my students and I frequently include notes and other mark-up, which demonstrate one of the major goals of undergraduate research. In the classroom, the project is used as a tool for teaching, wherein the learning process is just as important as the final product. In arts disciplines as in any discipline, students make mistakes, learn from them through critique or consultation and move on to try new methods.