Welcome to the Documentation Studio Making Learning Visible, a General Education Capstone course, was designed as an interdisciplinary collaboration between education and visual arts and is co-taught by Stephanie Cox Suarez, Associate Professor of Special Education and Erica Licea-Kane, Assistant Professor of Art. Making Learning Visible uses the tool of documentation to understand and interpret the learning of individuals and groups and to make this visible by creating a public display that engages a discussion and elicits multiple perspectives. The importance of this type of learning is three-fold:
1. Developing skills in visual literacy is becoming increasingly vital in our digital world. Students learn basics in visual design.
2. Developing skills of observation creates an attitude of close listening to understand learning.
3. Skills in collaboration and negotiation as a team are essential 21 st century skills. A long-term group project is a challenge that pushes these skills.
A notable element of the learning process is the opportunity for students to observe and participate in new settings that are intimate yet professional, and to witness interactions that would not normally be available to them. For example, at Perkins School for the Blind, Early Learning Center, students listened to families with toddlers with multiple disabilities and heard first-hand about daily challenges from the parents.
Documentation tells a story about learning, so Stephanie and Erica ask themselves if they can see learning in these students’ displays. Students have learned that sharing the documentation — getting another perspective — helps a story to emerge. They hope to learn from this first round of documentation so that they can truly make learning visible.
“We’ve learned that sharing the documentation — getting another perspective — helps a story to emerge.”
Hayley, Connor, Andrea and Aaron documented their experience at the Assistive Device Center at the Perkins School for the Blind, a workshop that creates customized materials for children with disabilities. Unlike commercially available products, the center designs and constructs products that meet the unique needs of individuals. The materials to create these devices are affordable, durable and designed to reflect the interests and cultures of the individuals that use them. For example, a young girl might need a seat insert to go in regular chair for more back support. “It’s amazing that something as simple as cardboard can be so useful,” explained Connor. Hayley made a personal connection to the mission of the Center: “My sister is severely handicapped, and after seeing how much money my family has spent on these types of devices, I wanted to feature the Center, which creates much more affordable and durable options for children.”
Emily, Kathryn, Emily and MacKenzie worked with the Perkins Early Learning Center creating a Welcome Board entitled, “All We See is Possibility,” for new parents at the Center. The Board, which they recreated at the Documentation Studio, is meant to “introduce parents to the faces they would see at the center,” including professional staff, other families and community volunteers.
Brae , a student teacher at the Peabody Terrace Children’s Center , documented “Doctor Play”,” which turned out to be an exercise and lesson in boundaries, power and empathy. After having Doctor Mary Alexander come in to talk to her students about the body, she documented, through photos and scripts how the children not only altered their vocabulary about the body, but also developed a raised awareness of the patient. Not only did they learn to be gentle when conducting an examination, but also began using words like clavicle, tendons and spine.
“My sister is severely handicapped, and after seeing how much money my family has spent on these types of devices, I wanted to feature the Center, which creates much more affordable and durable options for children.”
– Hayley Adamuska
If you would like to learn more about the Documentation Studio, contact Stephanie Cox Suarez at firstname.lastname@example.org.