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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Stacey Cann, Art Education

Collaboration in the Studio Art Classroom: Making Meaning Together

Date & time
Tuesday, July 30, 2024
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Nadeem Butt



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Collaboration in the studio art classroom is an amalgamation of students, materials, ideas, and skills. This assemblage of human and non-human factors can create unique pedagogical experiences for students. it can also create a support network that helps students in their early careers as artists and art educators. the idea of the artist as a lone genius persists from modernism despite the fact that many galleries, biennials, and art fairs have embraced collaboration as a way of art making.

In this study we look at the experiences of students, professional artists, and post-secondary instructors who utilize collaboration. using these experiences, the study outlines an orientation towards collaboration that can help instructors plan collaborative assignments in their class. this study uses both phenomenology and Actor Network Theory to describe the experiences of participants. Phenomenology allows for deep description of the experiences of participants, however, it does not fully account for the agency of non-human actants, and privileges the subject. Therefore, Actor Network Theory has been utilized to account for these non-human factors while still privileging the experience of the participant. This was done through an interview process where participants recounted their experiences privileging both their relationship with their collaborators as well as with materials and technologies that they used to collaborate.

These interviews overlapped in many ways and three major categories helped organize the experiences of the students, artists, and instructors. They were flexibility and openness, structure and process, and community and relationships. Flexibility and openness described the participants relationships to each other, as well as the materials that they used. Structure and process helped participants navigate the exchange of ideas that is necessary for collaboration without becoming fixed on the end result. Finally, community and relationships were the overarching structure and ethos that allowed for collaboration.

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