Curiosity, Mystery and Risk: Exploring the Challenges of Adopting Creative and Playful Pedagogies in Higher Education

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    As British/UK Universities move towards more business orientated models of education, largely driven by financial goals, league tables and achievement metrics, teaching and learning staff are feeling more restricted in challenging traditional methods/pedagogies of education which risk (negatively) impacting NSS scores and MEQ feedback. This is largely at odds within contemporary fields of educational practice, where emphasis is centred on innovative and co-creative pedagogies, that allow for curiosity-led learning, creative practical activities and reflective spaces. This disjointed relationship between expectations and practice, provides the innovative educator with a greater challenge in designing ways to engage with learners in creative and experimental practices, whilst managing the perceived risk and uncertainty for the institution, educator and student. This paper presents two studies that were delivered at Coventry University, UK, to explore the use of creative and playful pedagogies within a higher education setting. The first study, Curious Oddities, involved students from Motor Sports and Health, working with a local artist during induction week, to create weird and wonderful 3D sculptures of creatures which represent their inner selves. In the process the students, using materials, scratch-built, from found objects, explored intimate detail around their hopes and fears to provoke and evoke their responses about their perspectives on their learning journey ahead. The workshops were offered as a means for realising self-learning, connection, as well as the animation of difference. In the second study, Sports & Exercise post-graduate students were tasked with undertaking a gamified, problem-based learning task, delivered via a single module blended approach. Four mystery packages were delivered over the course of four weeks to each student group of 4 (n = 6 groups), containing body composition data, nutrition-based props, usbs with videos and fictional materials related to the task. Students were asked to analyse the data received and to reflect on all of the materials to construct a needs analysis for a fictional client. The authors will briefly present each study and the key findings, reflecting upon issues that arose, particularly in the challenges of managing uncertainty, confusion and perceived risk from the perspectives of the staff and students involved. A mystery package will be used within the presentation to promote creative discussion on ways to effectively employ creative and playful pedagogies in University settings. We will discuss resource and confidence issues in implementing creative pedagogy (and with large cohorts) and engage with the conference attendees in how to generate ideas for actively-engaged, inter-disciplinary learning, willing to take risks.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Apr 2017
    EventPlayful Learning - Manchester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 12 Jul 201714 Jul 2017


    ConferencePlayful Learning
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'Curiosity, Mystery and Risk: Exploring the Challenges of Adopting Creative and Playful Pedagogies in Higher Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this