The Circle of Doing Research

Willem de Kooning Academy
Thu 16 Mar

Introducing the Circle of Doing Research

What is the best way to introduce students to research in art and design, right from the very beginning of their studies? How can we help them give words to the creative and artistic research they are doing? What are the shared aspects of research in the different disciplines at the academy? With these questions the Willem de Kooning Academy Research Station began the ‘Conversations in Doing Research’ project in late 2021. As a result, the ‘Circle of Doing Research’ has been developed. It is an open model that students and faculty can use to design and describe, and to reflect on research. That happens, among other things, in a module for first-year undergraduate students, the Crash Course in Doing Research.

The Circle of Doing Research consists of six components. Firstly, research by making, research of context, and participatory research form the foundation. On top of these lies the ‘spinner’: documenting, reflecting, and making public, ensure that the knowledge and data produced become part of a structured research process. The process can begin and end anywhere and move through several iterations. It is a model in motion in which each student and teacher can find their own route. The important thing is that in the process, making, practice, theory, and reflection come together.

The circle was developed by the Research Station based on conversations with all the programmes at the WdKA. The need to make explicit the different aspects of research in art and design as well as the need to find a common language for it were central to this process. We examined how research is described in the curriculum and which methods are mentioned. We asked course leaders and teachers how students are introduced to research and how the notion develops over the years. By starting in practice and developing bottom-up, the circle aligns with and helps support education.

Last fall, the circle formed the basis for a transdisciplinary crash course for all first-year students. They were introduced to the various components. The circle was also linked to practice through conversations with alumni about their graduate projects. The crash course was embedded in the existing programmes and in the classes, the circle was used as a reflection tool. Questions addressed included: Where do you stand as a beginning researcher? How do you usually start a project? Which side of doing research could you develop further? The circle is also expressly intended for teachers, who can appropriate it and use it in their teaching.

In addition to the first year, fourth-year students have also been introduced to the model, in a kick-off for graduate research. The Research Station is now working to roll it out in other years. We will also deepen our own research into the application and functioning of the model.

If you want to know more about the Circle of Doing Research, feel welcome to contact Miriam Rasch, coordinator of the Research Station:

The circle is published under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) on this website. A further explanation of the different parts can also be found here.

Recently, the developers* of the circle, were guests on the Podcast series Research in Art Education (by Artez Studium Generale). You can listen to it here.

*Miriam Rasch, philosopher, writer, and coordinator of the Research Station at the WdKA, Jojanneke Gijsen, researcher, art historian, and art educational developer, and Harma Staal, graphic designer and educational developer.