Teaching and learning online through performing arts: Puppetry as a pedagogical tool in higher education
Keywords:Puppetry, Higher Education, Adaptative appropriation, Transformative appropriation, Learning dynamics
Due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a Swiss university course called “Psychology and Migration” had to move online over the Spring semester 2021. In this course, Psychology and Education students learn about the sociocultural considerations of migration, through a theoretical, personal and artistic exploration of the subjective experience of migration, based on performing arts. As part of the main pedagogical strategies, students are invited to collectively create a short theatre play based on some selected literary texts. Under the conditions imposed by the pandemic, puppetry arts were chosen as a new tool for distance-learning. Collaborating with theatre professionals, the students created a short play, and performed it online using sock puppets, image theatre or object theatre. Using data collected during the course (video recordings of online sessions and students’ diaries), this article explores the critical process of reduction and expansion, and the (potentially) productive tensions that the course creates. It analyses two main appropriation modes for course students: in adaptative appropriation, students aim to reduce these tensions by adapting to the perceived expectations of teachers; in transformative appropriation, students creatively use possibilities offered by the course to conduct a personal exploration, integrating theories with their own experiences and questions.
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