Transactional space: feedback, critical thinking, and learning dance technique

Akinleye, Adesola ORCID: and Payne, Rose (2016) Transactional space: feedback, critical thinking, and learning dance technique. Journal of Dance Education, 16 (4) . pp. 144-148. ISSN 1529-0824 [Article] (doi:10.1080/15290824.2016.1165821)

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This article explores attitudes about feedback and critical thinking in dance technique classes. We discuss an expansion of our teaching practices to include feedback as bidirectional (transactional) and a part of developing critical thinking skills in student dancers. The article was written after we undertook research exploring attitudes and cultures surrounding feedback in dance technique classes within university settings in the United Kingdom and the United States. Using a hybrid ethnographic (practice as research) model we collected data through class observations, individual interviews with students and teachers, and journaling and reflecting on our own daily teaching practice. Pseudonyms have been used throughout and permission obtained from participants to include their voices in the article.1(1. This research was approved by University ethics board and institution review board, and followed rigorous ethical procedures, including consent forms and reviews during our process.)

At the beginning of our inquiry we were interested in exploring how students received feedback. We thought this would involve discovering more about the forms and ways feedback can be communicated to students, particularly how a climate of negative feedback can be avoided in the classroom. However, as we carried out the research we realized that merely looking at how feedback is communicated constructs feedback as one-directional.

We questioned whether we had been placing enough importance on the notion that feedback can be transactional. Following John Dewey, we take the term transactional to indicate dynamic, co-created relationships and environments (Dewey and Boydston 2008 Dewey, J., and J. A. Boydston. 2008. The later works of John Dewey, 1925–1953. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.).

We realized that how feedback is communicated is significant, of course, but the means by which it is recognized as feedback by students, and how it is responded to is of equal bearing. This led us to consider the importance of students’ (and teachers’) critical thinking in our classrooms, as we felt student responses to feedback are as important as the action of giving it. By critical thinking we are suggesting skills of evaluation that allow for synthesis of ideas and support the ability to have shifts in perception. We want our students to develop the analytical skills to let go of an essentialist approach to their perception of themselves as dancers, and instead critically challenge their habitual movements and notions of what dance can be. Thus we see critical thinking as supporting the co-construction and permeability of a transactional approach to feedback. Informed by Dewey’s somatic starting point we approached the inquiry from a theoretical framework that places bodily experience as central—which we are calling embodiment. (This methodology is examined further in Akinleye 2016 Akinleye, A. 2016. Her life in movement: Embodiment as a methodology. In Researching embodied sport: Exploring movement cultures, ed. I. Wellard, 178–96. London: Routledge.). In this article we discuss how we have come to see a relationship among feedback, communication, and critical thinking in dance technique classrooms.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Dance group
A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
Item ID: 21469
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Dance Education on 30/11/2016, available online:
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Depositing User: Adesola Akinleye
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2017 15:25
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 18:55

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